Taylor Swift started her 1989 Tour at Tokyo Dome in the city’s Suidobashi district on Tuesday night. The 55,000 seat cylindrical stadium was packed to the hilt, and the organizers placed light-emitting wristbands on every seat so the entire crowd illuminated and changed colors in unison.
The show started with video testimonials and comments from Taylor’s friends, like Selena Gomez, Haim, and others (there was no opening act, unlike her upcoming U.S. dates). This technique continued throughout the show, primarily when the star disappeared to change costumes (which happened at least 10 times).
Swift opened with “Welcome to New York,” using a mock NYC backdrop and featuring her retinue of all-male dancers. For the third track, Swift launched into “Blank Space” and extended the number by using a vocal loop of her singing to repeat the word “Tokyo” and harmonize with herself.
Swift explained her decision to start the tour in Tokyo: “This year changed my life and I wanted to come here to say thank you.”
The 1989 album was heavily featured in this tour starter, and Swift gave a number of explanations pertaining to the release. “For this album I was a 25-year-old girl, single, writing about love from the outside looking in. I learned a lot about love from…watching movies! Eighties teen movies like Sixteen Candles.”
Swift continued to explain the basic plot of these kinds of movies where something would drive the would-be lovers apart. She noted, “And then at the end of the movie the person shows up and says what the other person wants to hear….at 2 a.m.” With that she launched into “I Wish You Would,” a track that mentions “2 a.m” in the lyrics.
Later in the show, Swift ventured out on to the walkway, elevated high above the crowd. Standing alone with an acoustic guitar, Swift mused, “A lot of people find themselves with these blurred lines or mixed messages, not knowing if the person loves them back. In a perfect world it’s like you tell your love simply. You only have two options…either you leave…or you stay.” With that she leapt into “You Are in Love” solo with her steel string.
Before the next track, and still on the narrow platform above the floor audience, she observed, “There are 55,000 people here tonight and I can only assume that some of you have gone through hard times. I can only assume that some of you turned to music at those times, like I have. So we have that in common.”
Taylor then offered encouragement to audience, playing the ‘helpful friend’ role she’s often identified with. “Remember, you are not your mistakes. You are not damaged goods. You are not the opinion of someone who doesn’t know you. You are someone who survived a rainstorm which made you stronger. Now I believe a lot of rainstorms make you clean….clean.” With that the crane rotated and the songstress began “Clean.”
Still up on the crane, the singer then let loose with “Love Story,” and the crowd reacted as loudly to that as any track of the night. Back on the main stage, Taylor broke out her electric guitar for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” as the Dome rocked.
Switching instruments, she sat down at the piano and told the crowd, “I’m looking out at an ocean of people that have been singing along all night and that’s so beautiful that you would do that even if you don’t speak English! It makes me feel so wistful and romantic that you would do that.” And then she massaged the keyboards for the mash-up “Enchanted/Wildest Dreams.”
All the dancers and Taylor boogied on the catwalk high above the floor as it rotated and moved forward for the finale “Shake It Off.” Confetti rained on the audience more than once, bringing to a close to the nearly two-hour performance.
The elated audience was only outdone by Swift, who looked genuinely thrilled at the superb show she just pulled off.