Just a month after it hosted the Super Bowl, State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., will be the site of an event that the people packing the venue will no doubt claim dwarfs America’s biggest sporting event — the opening night of Taylor Swift’s highly-anticipated Eras Tour on Friday. “Highly-anticipated” might be an understatement, given that this is the 52-date U.S. stadium tour — with an international schedule to be released later — that crashed Ticketmaster and sold 2 million tickets in one day. Here’s what to know before the first show.
Why this is such a big deal again?
Swift, one of the most popular superstars on the planet, used to tour on a fairly regular schedule, in accordance to her once-every-two-years album cycle. But she hasn’t toured since 2018, when she embarked on her sold-out Reputation Stadium Tour. (Incidentally, that also launched in Glendale in March 2018, back when it was called University of Phoenix Stadium.)
Swift released her seventh studio album “Lover” in 2019, and planned to take it on the road with multiple international concert dates and then a U.S. “Lover Fest” in summer 2020, with two massive shows each in Los Angeles and Boston. Alas, the pandemic postponed and then permanently scrapped those plans.
Live Nation Entertainment, Ticketmaster’s parent company, cited Swift’s absence from touring as one reason for the hype after the singer announced her Eras Tour in November — which, when tickets went on sale, sparked a Ticketmaster meltdown of glitches, hours of waiting in virtual waiting rooms and cancellation of the general admission sale. Some tickets were later posted on resale sites for absurdly high prices.
“This exceeded every expectation,” Live Nation chairman Greg Maffei told CNBC last year, noting that they could have sold out “900 stadiums” with the demand. This spurred furious Swifties to file a lawsuit alleging violation of antitrust laws, as well as a congressional hearing in January to investigate consolidation in the entertainment ticketing market.
How is the 'eras’ part of the Eras Tour going to work?
This is the top question that has Swifties in a frenzy. The only description Swift has offered is that the tour is “a journey through the musical eras of my career (past and present!).” This encompasses quite a range, given that Swift’s self-titled debut album was released in 2006 back when she was a rising country star in Nashville, and goes through October 2022 with the record-shattering “Midnights,” her 10th studio album with the synth-pop sound that she has experimented with in recent years. Not to mention her detour into indie folk/cottagecore with sister albums “Folklore” — Grammy album of the year winner — and “Evermore” that she released at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
Her “eras” are made more complicated by the fact that she has gone back into the studio to rerecord her first six albums, due to a dispute with her former Nashville label, Big Machine. So since the last time she hit the road, she also rereleased her 2008 album as “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and her 2012 album as “Red (Taylor’s Version),” both with bonus tracks from “the vault” — such as the updated, 10-minute version of her breakup ballad “All Too Well,” which she turned into an enormous streaming hit and short film in 2021.
The story behind Taylor Swift’s 10-minute version of ‘All Too Well,’ the song making fans lose their minds
What will the Eras Tour set list be like?
It’s all tightly under wraps, naturally, though you can essentially guarantee big songs from “Midnights” that got the music video treatment: singles “Anti-Hero” and “Lavender Haze,” and perhaps “Bejeweled.”
The rest is a mystery, especially because in the past, Swift has switched up one or two songs each night for an acoustic set. And will she go with the obvious career-makers (“Shake It Off,” “Love Story,” “You Belong With Me,” etc.) individually or as a medley? How will she meld together stadium-shaking pop extravaganzas with quiet, piano-driven moments on “Folklore” and “Evermore?” Was she being serious on TikTok when a fan begged her to include 2018 sleeper hit “Delicate” and she replied “done” in the comments?
One thing is certain: Fans will never let her hear the end of it if she doesn’t include “Cruel Summer,” a yearning pop track on “Lover” that seemed destined to become a summertime smash, yet never saw the light of day as a single — and she has still never played it live, a fact that is now a running, desperate joke among Swifties.
Who are the openers?
Paramore will open the first two shows in Glendale — the band’s recently reunited and Swift is longtime friends with lead vocalist Hayley Williams — along with singer-songwriter-viral TikTok star Gayle, who will stick around for several more dates.
Other openers include names you might recognize: indie rocker Phoebe Bridgers, who collaborated with Swift on vault song “Nothing New” from “Red (Taylor’s Version),” and Haim, the sister trio and Swift’s BFFs who were featured on murder ballad “No Body, No Crime” on “Evermore.” There will also be newer acts such as Gracie Abrams, Girl in Red, Beabadoobee, Muna and Owenn, the latter of whom is a choreographer-dancer and appeared in Swift’s “Lover” music video.
Will there be special guests?
How could there not be? Swift very memorably had special guests practically every night of her 1989 World Tour in 2015. But on the Reputation Tour, she only featured other stars in a handful of big cities, such as her close pal Selena Gomez in Los Angeles or Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in Nashville.
Still, over the last several albums, she has collaborated with a collection of artists, including Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Bon Iver and Lana Del Rey — and it’s hard to imagine she won’t bring out Aaron Dessner from the National, who has become one of her closest collaborators.
How are the fans handling the Eras Tour?
The Swifties are losing it, of course. TikTok is full of videos with the singer’s die-hard fan base predicting set lists, mash-ups, and even choreography, let alone a whole genre of videos about what to wear to the concert. As always, they are out in full force dissecting all of Swift’s social media activity for what surprises could be in store.
How is the city of Glendale handling the Eras Tour?
The city of Glendale is losing it, of course. Officials held a Swift pun-filled news conference on March 13 — a significant date in the Swiftverse, if you know, you know — and announced that they really would change the name of Glendale, as promised, to welcome Swift to town. (The Arizona Republic reported the name change is both “temporary and symbolic” and only lasts Friday and Saturday.)
They ran through a list of names that Swift fans had suggested: Swiftdale, Glendale (Taylor’s Version), Tizzle Town, and our personal favorite, ERAS-zona. But in the end, they went with “Swift City.”