Taylor Swift at Ford Field in Detroit, MI

The big mitten gets struck with all Grammys and no whammies when Taylor Swift brings her ERAS tour to the mighty Motor City.

Motown is no stranger to musical superstars… In fact, one could say, it’s in the life blood pumping through this old city’s veins. But even this heartbeat begins to speed up when the young lady known as T-Swift drops a knee-high, sequinned boot into the middle of Ford Field. Taylor Swift has arrived and the Swiftie Army stands strong… thousands upon thousands deep. The streets of inner-city Detroit have seen a lot, but they weren’t ready for hordes of screaming young fans marching through the town attempting to make their way to the concert of a lifetime. Michigan’s Governor, Gretchen Whitmer took to Twitter to welcome Taylor and her Swifties to the state, and urged everyone to stay safe and have fun, “and no matter what era you’re in, Shake It Off!”

As we begin to take in the sights, there is soooo much to see: the Michigan State Police exchanging  friendship bracelets with smiling Swifties. Flava Flav is in the house, taking time to pose with fans for selfies while showing support for Swift wearing his “Red by Taylor” jacket (and, of course, a matching red clock!). And then the fans as far as the eye can see. Some are smiling, some are having group singalongs as they tailgate, and some are dressed head to toe in Eras-specific Taylor swag (and there are even hundreds camped out, sitting on the ground in front of the arena with tear-filled eyes because all of the tickets are gone).

The scene is semi-reminiscent of Beatlemania, for those that can remember decades back, but the irony here… Taylor Swift has three times more Grammys than the Beatles (as well as more than Metallica AND Keith Urban!). Michigan is a very special place for Swift. In fact, the first concert tour of her young career happened right here, at Pine Knob/DTE Energy Theater in 2006 as an opener for country star Phil Vassar. Gearing up for her double-header concert weekend, local media sources reported that Swift, wanting to give back to Michiganders, sent a generous “undisclosed amount” donation to the Gleaners Food Bank to help feed the hungry and underprivileged of the inner city. Tonight will make the tour’s 32nd sold-out stop on her 50+date trek across the United States, and we are ready to get you to the goods… seatbelts on, please! Fast forward to game time…

8:00 PM sharp and the biggest Jumbotron you have ever seen comes to life displaying a clock and a two-minute countdown. Like a flame to gasoline, the crowd instantly erupts to ear-deafening screams… snuffing out your inner dialogue. The clock now says 00:01 and our night is underway. Massive curtains part to reveal Swift’s dancers slowly walking to center stage while images of psychedelic clouds flash behind them. Each wearing what looks to be a massive paraglider-ish fan that billows in the wind as they march toward a central meeting point. As the last member of the tribe arrives, they all turn to face one another and bow, covering the stage with their massive tapestries. They proceed to stand, revealing our first glimpse of tonight’s star… Taylor Swift!

Now standing in the center of the billowing troop, a riser begins to elevate her as she delivers the night’s opener  “Miss Americana” blended into “The Heartbreak Prince.” The fans join in and start a stadium-wide sing-along while dancing to the beat. Swift goes into “Cruel Summer” before pausing to tell the fans how powerful she feels (while flexing her biceps, and striking a power pose for the Swifties). “The Man,” “You Need to Calm Down,” and “Lover” roll out next. Swift explains that the ERAs concept covers seventeen years of music, one era at a time. “I’ll be your host tonight, my name is Taylor.” Another ear-deafening roar follows her smiling introduction. TS finishes out her Lover era with an XXL version of “The Archer.”

Costume and scenery change as we depart onto the Fearless era. Swift’s band comes to her side for “Fearless,” fan favorite “You Belong With Me,” and “Love Story.” We are nearly an hour in as we cross into the Evermore era.  Stage lights grow dark and Swift has disappeared just like a Vegas-level magician. “Tis the Damn Season” starts the set and Swift once again levitates through the floor of center stage delivering powerful performances of “Willow,” the tribute to her opera-singing grandmother Marjorie Finlay “Marjorie,” and closes the era out with “Tolerate It.” 

This epic night of champions continues as Taylor keeps the Swifties mesmerized with hit-after-hit from her Reputation era (featuring a mega deluxe performance of “Ready for It?”). The night presses on with Speak Now era and the Red era. Fans join in again for more stadium karaoke as the crowd-pleaser rolls out “We Are Never Getting Back Together.”  But wait… there’s more… T-Swift keeps going with the endurance of an Olympian, right into the Folklore era, with all the goodies including “The 1,” “Illicit Affairs,” “My Tears Ricochet,” and ends the set on “Cardigan.” 1989 era is next, and Taylor takes a moment to explain that the tune “Blank Space” started out as a joke about her personal life and the tabloids chasing after her.  The fans go bonkers (well EXTRA bonkers) when TS plays her mega-hit and lead single from 1989 “Shake It Off.”

We arrive at the highly-anticipated mystery moment… the “Surprise Songs” of the night. Each tour stop gets a unique twist on two of her classic tracks.  Detroit was served with a moving guitar version of “Haunted,” and a very well-received piano version of “I Almost Do” (the first live performance of this since 2013). 

Alas, we have arrived at the last of the coveted ERAs but quite possibly the most history-making and prolific installment yet, the Midnight Era. Swift describes this as a concept album based on 13 sleepless nights of her life and the things that keep you up at night. The album Midnights was an immediate success, shattering numerous records, and in just one day of sales became the best-selling album of 2022 (as well as the most streamed in one day in history!). Swift starts her Midnight set with “Lavender Haze,” “Anti-Hero,” and “Midnight Rain.”
Taylor always takes time to stop and chat with the fans, sharing all the intimate details of her songs, their meanings, and their inspirations. She then fires into the sassy track “Vigilante Shit,” “Bejeweled,” and the screaming audience fave, “Master Mind.” Swift steps to the mic and says, “You’ve been a phenomenal crowd… thank you for giving us everything you have! Do you have room for one more song in your life? We do Detroit!” Swift’s troop of dancers join her for an electrifying XL version of her smokin’ track “Karma.” The track ends with Swift and her crew holding hands and bowing deeply to a Stadium-wide standing ovation. And just like that, 44 songs and three hours and 22 minutes later Taylor Swift, country star, pop icon, legend… disappears for the last time through the stadium stage floor, in a blaze of glory… smoke, pyro, and screaming fans! 
Taylor Swift and the ERAs tour comes as a highly-recommended concert-going experience that is mesmerizing, visually spectacular, and one of the most engaging stage productions of the decade. Three-plus hours of extended play versions of hit after hit is certainly well worth the ticket price and the memories. Catch Swift’s epic gala on the road now and be sure to check Taylor’s official website for concert details, dates, and current news. And while you’re there, be sure to pre-order Speak Now Taylor’s Version, due for release on July 7th, 2023.)
PS: Welcome to the Swiftie Army! 
About Jay Dunbar 53 Articles
Jay Dunbar is a professional photographer that enjoys wearing a multitude of hats. He is active in the commercial and stock photography arenas and currently owns and operates a Detroit based investigations firm and photography agency. Despite his many endeavors, Jay can frequently be found in attendance at your favorite concert venues, capturing breathtaking images of live performances of many genres of music. A skilled author and photographer, he could be described as a " Serial Music Journalist." Carrying the photo bug for nearly thirty years, Jay enjoys all styles of photography, testing new gear, and helping aspiring photographers, artists and models to develop their skills and learn their craft.