Newark, New Jersey — "Sometimes, you have just too many emotions in one day, that you don't know which one to write about."
It was mid-set and Taylor Swift sat at red grand piano, pushing in the keys with casual preciseness. Her wavy blonde hair fell around her shoulders as she sang. Her eyes glistened. She looked directly at the main camera, projecting the intense, sad feeling she had on her face onto the big screen.
Around the Prudential Center on Thursday, groups of teens clutched their friends' hands while Swift solemnly called out the melody of "All Too Well," a song she had written about a breakup. A couple in Section 8 cried in each other's arms.
But it didn't stay beautifully somber for long. Throughout the Red Tour stop, Taylor Swift took the audience through a string of emotions — from blissful to hopeful to revengeful to romantic. Or, as the singer sums it up in one fiery, all-encompassing color: red. The emotions tied to the color, seen everywhere from her microphone to her sparkly oxford shoes, are seen as a challenge, Taylor told the audience. They're something we learn from, grow from and use to become the people we'll end up as.
Swift's had a lot of those emotions along her lifelong voyage as a singing superstar — betrayal, jealousy, falling in love. A video montage took concertgoers through her life, starting when she was 1 year old, to when she got her first guitar, to school musicals, to recording her first song, to global stardom. All the while, she was following her dream, and tossing down haters along the way.
Sitting on a treasure chest, plucking the tinny strings of her banjo reminded her of that journey. "This brings me back to the stuff I used to daydream about when I was a kid," she said, scanning the arena before heading off into "Mean," from 2010's Speak Now. (But the New Jersey crowd looked even better than her childhood dreams, she revealed.)
The night was filled with Red, taking us from the bubbly, love proclamation of "Stay Stay Stay" to the dangerous, dub-stepper "I Knew You Were Trouble" to the carpe diem attitude of "22." When one moment there was screaming and bouncing, five more minutes brought fist-pumping anger. Another five minutes ushered in sobs and unison cries over love gone sour. TSwizzle got fans rowdy and "rewarded" them with special guest Tyler Glenn from Neon Trees. The duo teamed up for the band's "Everybody Talks," jumping around the stage and grinding out the song's catchy chorus in harmony.
Set themes ranged from masquerade party to old-time cinema, but it still came as a surprise when Taylor put a doo-wop spin on "You Belong With Me." Watching the glittery backup dancers, complete with curly bobs and long gloves, I felt like I should've been in the '50s at the local diner, eating a burger and a malt instead of the Coke and candy I scarfed down backstage at Club Red. The superstar onstage was way more glammed up than the same, casual girl we met before the show, when a few select fans and media got access to Swift's hidden arena hangout.
Although Swift has a lot to reflect on, at 23, she still has a long career ahead of her, which accompanies her highly speculated personal life. "They're building you up just to knock you down," she said, addressing the media coverage around her relationships and her penchant from writing ballads about boys. ("I've been told I write a lot of breakup songs." It's true, she admitted.) They haven't brought her down yet, Taylor added, empowered, before singing about the loneliness of fame in "The Lucky One."
She's rubbed off on her fans. Many of them toted signs imparting her lyrical wisdom ("Dream impossible dreams," one read). Others took on her carefree "22" persona and donned cat ears. But mostly everyone wore red.
And really, "Red" is the only way to summarize the magic of the hectic, exhausting night. Because by the time you waded through the thousands pouring out on Mulberry Street, you'd experienced every different kind of emotion in only two hours. That's Red.
Tell us everything you've felt during Taylor's tour in the comments below!