Magazine article The Spectator

Live Music: Taylor Swift

Magazine article The Spectator

Live Music: Taylor Swift

Article excerpt

Imagine living Taylor Swift's life. She has been staggeringly, life-dominatingly famous since she was 17. Not for a single moment in her entire adulthood (she's now 28) has she been able to do any of the everyday things the rest of us take for granted. No wonder, then, that so much of what surrounds her seems so peculiar. No wonder her last two albums (2014's fabulous 1989, last year's rather less fabulous Reputation) have been dominated by songs about how other people perceive her life: every thing she does, as she is well aware, goes through a filter. She sings not about her love life -- her relationships with the actors Tom Hiddleston and Joe Alwyn, the DJ Calvin Harris --but about how her love life is reported. It's a very meta kind of pop stardom: 'I swear I don't love the drama, it loves me,' as she put it on the song 'End Game'.

Before she took to the stage at Wembley Stadium, the giant screens broadcast footage of 'secret sessions' in which groups of her fans had been invited to listen to Reputation before its release with Swift at her various homes. She's known for nurturing her fans -- sending expensive gift packages with handwritten notes to some of them, out of the blue. One wonders if this, too, is a reaction to the lack of normality in her life. It's as if she's made herself into the idealised version of who she might have wanted to be at 18 when, instead of hanging out with her friends, she was making albums, touring incessantly, becoming a star. As we left Wembley after an extraordinary, brilliant spectacle, my 17-year-old daughter asked me of the secret sessions, the gifts: 'Why do you think she does all that stuff?' I don't know, I told her, but she gets something from it, and my bet would be that it's all about an emotional reward rather than a cynical attempt to boost sales.

One tangible effect of her loyalty to her fans is their loyalty in return. …

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