Music City got a special sneak preview of Taylor Swift’s intricate Speak Now tour, during the tour’s final rehearsal show at the Bridgestone Arena on Saturday. The special gig was opened to the public in order to raise money for tornado victims in the Southern states. Mission accomplished –- Swift’s fans paid upwards of 750,000 dollars to see their hero up close and in person. And the country diva didn’t disappoint, putting on an expertly staged arena show worthy of a U2 or Lady Gaga.
Wearing the first of many outfits, Swift took the stage with the lyrics to Selena Gomez’s “Who Says” scrawled on her arm: “You’ve got every right to a beautiful life.” The show’s inspirational theme, about speaking your mind, seemed directly aimed at the youngsters in the audience, of which there were many. They held up an array of multi-colored glowsticks in the darkened arena, and belted out their adulation at every opportunity. But it wasn’t all tots in special tour t-shirts; we spotted a row of dudes proudly singing their heart out to songs like “Back To December” and “Mean.”
Swift seemed determined to show off her musical chops, performing on ukulele, banjo and piano, in addition to her standard acoustic and electric guitars. A cadre of dancers and a constantly changing stage helped add drama to the songs, most of which came from Swift’s record-breaking sales juggernaut Speak Now. At one point, she engaged in a mock shoving match with one of her dancers during “Better Than Revenge.” It was if Swift got the Broadway bug; at times, it felt like you were watching Speak Now, The Musical.
To that end, she sang a number of songs perched beneath a glowing tree from the back of the arena, had her dancers perform a Cirque De Soliel wire act suspended from the ceiling, and for the finale, flew around the entire venue on a floating platform while singing “Love Story.”
As far as “rehearsals” go, nothing went visibly wrong during the two-hour plus performance. But for Swift and her fans, many things went spectacularly right.