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Swift shows you can go home again

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, June 6, 2015

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

Taylor Swift's 1989 tour finalizes her divorce from country music. But don't worry, she did okay in the "settlement." The album has gone multi-platinum and many of the stadium dates are sold out, including this one.

Though a different transformation has been dominating the pop culture news, a capacity crowd of 55,000 witnessed a less shocking metamorphosis with the long time country darling reemerging as one of the music industry's most lethal stadium slayers. With her unabashed tales of her romances, subtlety is generally lost on the 25-year old. When she finally performed "Love Story" midway, it felt like a deep cut from her catalog.

A large chunk of time was spent pandering to the crowd as she continuously drove home that Pennsylvania was her native state. Ironic because she opened with "Welcome To New York."

There were multiple irritating video interludes featuring BFFs like Lena Dunham and Selena Gomez talking about her cats, the snacks they all share hanging out and other extraneous information. Redemption came when she said, "Since I'm from here, I thought you deserved a surprise," Little Big Town came out to perform their number one summer smash, "Pontoon." They are one of country's finest openers and proved they could easily headline their own tour (albeit not in a stadium.)

The barnburner of the evening was an absolute full throttle crushing of "Style." Speaking of which, the beautiful and sexy Swift always keeps her fashion choices classy. She may wear everything from a conservative jumpsuit to a bedazzled black top and hot pants, but her navel is never exposed. That pleases the parents, who are the ones really buying the records, of her core tween demographic.

Her voice, once considered a little screechy, has also gotten stronger, hitting a high note on "I knew You Were Trouble" that even Martina McBride would have been proud of. Elsewhere, she free styled after a loop of the word "Pittsburgh" was played as the bass line on "Blank Space."

The massive production included multi colored wristbands that lit up and changed colors depending on the song. For someone born before the height of iconic early to mid '80s John Hughes films, she made capable references to a few like "The Breakfast Club."

Shawn Mendes, 16, who just released his debut, "Handwritten," opened the show with a solo acoustic set highlighted by "Stitches," followed by Australian singer/songwriter Vance Joy, who had the fans singing along with Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" and his perky ukulele hit "Riptide."

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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