REVIEW: TAYLOR SWIFT AT SYDNEY ALLPHONES ARENA

March 12, 2012, 10:15 am Frances Mao Yahoo!7 Music

Our Yahoo!7 Music reviewer, Frances Mao, saw Taylor Swift live at the Sydney Allphones Arena on Friday March 9th, with some pleasantly surprising results.

Rating:

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I think I get it. The Taylor Swift thing. Were I a 13-year-old girl, the show the 22-yr-old country/pop star put on last night would have me declaring on Facebook "OMG THAT WAS SO THE BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE LOL."

At least that's the impression I got from the hysterical throngs of tweens, bedecked in glowsticks and showbags, followed by their enduring parents streaming out of the All Phones Arena last night. The chart-topping songstress played to a full capacity crowd in the first Sydney show of the Australian leg of her 'Speak Now' tour, and surely set a new record for decibel levels. Ear-plug-wanting parents should be very happy to be chaperoning daughters who are self-dubbed, fully-fledged "Swifties" though. In a saturated teen pop market which offers up the likes of a sexed-up Miley Cyrus and Ke$ha of the Disney-stars-gone-wild pool as role models for their daughters, there's not a single whiff of promiscuity in the girl-next-door appeal of Taylor Swift.

Instead of a pop songbook hyping alcohol-fuelled rages and 'partying all night', her songs with their earnest 'dear diary' lyrics are all about things held dear to the teen heart: the glow of first love, the crushing pain of heart-break, school-yard dilemmas, yearnings, dreams and aspirations. In the rollicking country twang of "Mean," it's the quiet loner girl getting one over the cheerleaders, while in the roof-raising "Fifteen," its the bittersweet, detail-rich story of adolescent longing. More than once last night, I looked around and saw a sea of girls softly singing their hearts out, their starry-eyed gazes locked upon their idol up on stage. To Swifties, Taylor is like their cool, talented, big sister, dispensing lessons in growing up. She promises in effusive heart-to-heart chats in between sets, that things will work out ok and mistakes are made for the better. A consummate stage pro, she still radiates honesty, warmth, and just a shadow of that former teenage gawkiness -- it cuts through the show's slick sheen and is as compelling and charming as any stage spectacle.

And spectacles there are. Glitter, glitter everywhere and not a speck un-shining. Along with the standard pyrotechnics displays and confetti showers, you'll also get a golden harp descending from the ceiling, acrobats dangling from giant liberty bells and Taylor swooping around the stadium in a balcony in her biggest hit, "Love Story." She intersperses playing the guitar, banjo, ukulele,and baby white grand piano (with attached stuffed koala) with skipping around fleet-footed with a leaping troupe of dancers, whipping the adoring crowd into a hand-clapping, screaming frenzy. The numerous interchanging sets themselves are a mash-up of every single fantasy a young girl could dream up - enchanted fairy gardens, farmhouse hoe-downs, a lavish church wedding complete with toilet-doll bride and groom, tutu-clad ballerinas skimming across the stage and leaping into the arms of handsome paramours who sweep them off their feet. Whether Miss Swift is ruby-lipped, with flaxen prairie plaits and strumming a banjo for "Mean," flicking her bouncy ponytail in a 50's choreographed routine for "The Story of Us," or enveloped in a shimmering ball gown and launching into the eerie strains of "Our Song," her audience is swept along in the swish of her full-skirted, good ol' fashioned charm. And both the parents and girls in attendance couldn't be happier. Taylor Swift finishes the Australian leg of her 'Speak Now' tour in Melbourne, playing the Rod Laver Arena from March 12-14.

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