Warning: The following post is an Inside Speak Now article. Do not read if you’re going to a concert because I will be revealing a lot of the surprises that await you.
Hello, Taylor Nation!
It all started on July 14, right about noon. I arrived at Centre Bell and met a lot of fans that were already there. Within moments, the crowd grew. I had no clue there were so many fans in Montreal! On top of that quite a few were also from out of town. If you have the option, go to a Speak Now concert a bit early.
All the buses were indoors in this venue. A few members of The Agency did come outside, but I wasn’t there at the time. However, for a few fans meeting Grant, Amos and David was icing on the cake. I had my moment with The Agency the day before so I am not complaining 🙂
I love setting foot inside a full venue and seeing everyone. Everyone. Everyone is just so happy to be there that it’s contagious
Danny Gokey started up the show. He had a great response from the audience.
NeedToBreathe was up next. I can’t really understand how this guys have so many albums and are not headlining already. The Outsiders, Girl From Tennessee, Lay’em Down, Let Us Love… They really covered most of their hits. They closed with an acoustic version of Something Beautiful.
After the openers, there’s a little interlude that feels like an age but at some point the venue plays one song, a song that Taylor uses to prep up for coming out. As of late, it’s American Girl by Tom Petty. As the song is playing, the screens go dark and as it ends the lights go dim. And then like a tidal wave there’s a sound that is the scream of every single fan. I’ve tried to describe what it feels like since the Fearless Tour and I can’t do it justice. It’s everyone screaming in unison.
The Speak Now text rolls in… and as it appears you know that the Outspoken One is about to come out. Then even before it’s over, almost by mistake, the curtain opens… and there’s The Agency. The lights are still dim, but where is Taylor?
And then from the front of the T-catwalk (how else would you call a catwalk in form of a T?) smoke and light comes up… and the Sparkly Dressed rises up from a secret elevator in the floor. And with a yell of “drop everything now”, Sparks Fly begins. The song really gets sparks!
Taylor gives just a little pause, which means we get to scream a lot, before going into Mine. At this time, I’m starting to worry about problems with the sound levels… could her mike be a bit higher… then I forget it all. Sometimes you have to stop anticipating what the critics might say and listen with your heart as every other fan. The show is for us to enjoy.
There’s a pause in the show and the Queen of Sparks addresses the crowd: “Bonsoir Montreal! Vous etes magnifiques. Je m’apelle Taylor and welcome to the Speak Now World Tour!” The arm lyrics are “When you’re alone you ain’t nothing but alone” from When You’re Alone by Bruce Springsteen.
From there we go into Story Of Us which just makes you want to dance. Up pop the dancers from hidden trapdoors on the stage floor. They’re really good, but my attention is on the mini drama that Taylor plays with Grant.
The dancers are very talented and I do believe they work better in some songs than others, but I know some fans are partial to them just because there’s more people on the stage that can obstruct the view of Taylor. I think Taylor has picked well regarding which songs are better with dancers and which don’t.
Watch out for dancer Fernando Miro as he sweeps the floor and dances around to eventually come up to a set of old time switches. Upon clicking the third switch… a familiar figure literally pops up from one of the hidden trapdoors with a little jack-in-the-box sound effect.
Taylor strolls up to the porch to play the banjo and then we get Eunice (aka the unbelievably talented Caitlin Evanson) joining her with the fiddle. The rest of the gang, all in costume, will eventually join in to play Our Song.
It’s at this point that the Outspoken One decides to tell us about her sickness, confirms that it was bronchitis, and goofs off by saying she’s glad to not have snot perpetually dripping off her nose anymore. Yes, she really said that on stage. The looks she got from the Agency? Priceless.
Of course the stage is set for Mean. It’s there that I get this pic with three different looks when Taylor hits the “how I can’t sing” line. I just love the look that Liz Huett gives right here. She’s like in your face while Caitlin is like whatever. That’s for all you critics out there.
Here’s another stage change. While everything is dark a few things happen. First, we get slow moving confetti set up with the lighting to look like a very believable snow effect. Then a bridge is lowered onto the stage so the dancers, dressed up in tuxedos and holding violins can step onto it. The violins are probably just for effect, since it’s Caitlin that comes up and plays a little violin solo that slowly becomes Back To December. Another hidden elevator (the stage has more trapdoors than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) brings up Taylor and a piano right underneath it.
Back To December changes into Apologize by One Republic with some You’re Not Sorry to the mix. It works out quite well.
The stage goes dark, you hear a phone ring and the screen shows a sound wave graphic of the “call”. A high pitch voice comes on saying “hey leave a message, make it hot” from an answering machine. The response? Now go stand in the corner and THINK about what you did.
Better Than Revenge is one of Taylor’s sassiest tunes. It’s basically a slap in the face. Of course we get to see Taylor acting up the song with Caitlin and Liz. I am so glad she didn’t replace them with dancers for this bit because I couldn’t love Cait and Liz more.
Speak Now comes up next, as Claire Callaway takes the stage dressed as a the bride complete with bridesmaids fluttering about her (and dresses that look like a pastry). It is at this point that I remember some of the internet videos and notice security cordoning the corridor. I know what’s about to happen. I walk slowly over up to the rope as Tay sings. I really wish Taylor had kept Liz and Caitlin here as she did on the Asian and Europe legs of the tour. It was really cute. It’s Marlyn and Charity taking the role of her friends instead.
It’s at this point that my heart is beating very fast because if I’m right, the Fearless One is about to walk right beside me. I’m not moving from the rope. Everyone else clues in a moment later as Taylor descends into the crowd to make her way to the back.
Tay walks through the roped corridor with security carefully keeping an eye over her. As she comes up to where I’m standing, she reaches out her hand. I grasp it.
I have Taylor Alison Swift, face to face, looking at me.
Time stops. I have one second to say something. One second and a half at best.
I say it and like a dream she’s gone.
At the back of the venue, a giant lighted tree is lowered down. The Fearless One sits down leaning against it with a ukelele in her hands. She talks briefly again, but my mind is still a bit muddled and can’t quite make out the words. It’s Fearless time. She mixes the song with I’m Yours and Hey Soul Sister.
She talks once again before Last Kiss. This time she seems almost a bit shaken. I can only guess it’s because July 9th just went by, but she seems genuinely touched by everyone here. Look over to the main stage for a moment so you don’t miss Caitlin at the harp.
After that, she asks us to sing very loudly as she plays You Belong With Me. It’s her most iconic song and her most popular hit but I’m not sure why she goes acoustic with it. Eventually the Agency chimes in. With this tune she makes her way back to the stage where she is joined by the dancers and it turns into a big number.
With little encouragement she has everyone sing out the song to her, and of course everyone knows every word. There’s a part in which you have to clap and everyone did it. I felt so proud of everyone myself.
The stage goes dark and dimly lighted in blue for Dear John. This is a personal song for her, and you can tell it as she sings it that she’s reliving that moment. This is about a longtime crush on someone where disappointment came in before it became a relationship. Or at least, that’s how I see it.
The stage is lighted blue with a spotlight focus on Grant. The allusion to blues and a guitar player is unmistakable here. The surprise comes when she hits the line I’m shining like fireworks as real life fireworks go off on the stage. Yes, the Sparkly Dressed has pyro. Watch out.
Enchanted is up next. Picture lighted up trees coming from the ceiling while Claire Callaway takes the stage in a ballerina outfit. Dominique Kelley joins her and eventually so do all the dancers. I have to say, I don’t like ballet but the dancers do a great job here. I was very impressed. Caitlin once more does a mini solo before the Enchantress takes the stage.
Taylor is even raised ballet-style, if only for a second, by dancer Justin Boulet. I almost had a shot of that, but there’s that one tall bald guy in every concert right in your line of view. Oh well.
The stage goes dark and spooky after that. Bells rise from the floor. Taylor comes back with a red costume that is surprisingly not sparkly but dark. She wields a hammer and hits the bell. Two other dancers hit the other bells and the music starts as the bells rise above the stage.
Haunted comes alive. It’s theatrics, it’s dramatic and it’s actually the most visually impacting of Taylor’s performances with aerialists coming down and swooping over the stage. It’s a very impressive number.
Taylor reappears with Sparkle. She doesn’t name her guitars, so I named it for her. If you don’t know which guitar is that go get your eyes checked.
It’s Long Live. You know you’re going to sing out loud, laugh, cry and go wild. Did you know when entire team put their hands together before the show they used to shout Fearless? Now they shout Long Live. I’m so glad. Taylor doesn’t introduce The Agency one by one at this point but she does have them come on stage and get their well deserved applause.
Oh yeah, I did see a familiar face in the video for Long Live. I even heard her name mentioned by someone on my right.
The curtains close, but it’s a ruse. Taylor does come out again, seated on a couch. This is Fifteen. Her voice at this point is a bit tired but I don’t care, she still nails it. The members of the Agency come out and sit with her.
In the background, pictures of each member of The Agency come up from when they were fifteen and one of them now. Amos, dude, was that a mohawk? And Caitlin was making a face on hers. It was just too cute.
Taylor finishes the evening with her very own opus, Love Story. This is an uncomfortable part of the show for me because she uses a balcony-shaped basket hung by wires to fly above the audience and I’m really scared for her here.
Finally I can breathe again when she lands. As she finishes singing, you can see the tiredness on her face but the happiness as well. It’s been a great night.
She takes a bow with all the members of the Agency and the members of her dance crew as well. The applause is deafening.
I don’t think I could sell this concert to a casual observer. It is rich in so many details as the Speak Now album itself, but it requires you to put some heart. When you do, it grabs you and it doesn’t let you go. It tugs at the heartstrings and it fills them with lights and music. Visually, it’s a feast. Lyrically, you can’t help but sing along, and you might as well. It is true that sometimes it’s hard to hear the Outspoken One with this many fans, but you’re not here alone even if you think you are.
Taylor’s arm lyrics last night were “When you’re alone you ain’t nothing but alone” from When You’re Alone by Bruce Springsteen. I want to add that when you are with friends or even strangers in a Taylor Swift concert, you’re part of the show. That’s what she does. She makes you feel like friends. She makes you feel like family.
I guess you want to know what I told Tay, huh.
Well, what would you have said to her? Think about it. You have one second before she’s out of your life. You can’t ask for a hug, or a picture or an autograph… you can only hope she hears you before she’s gone. What is the one thing you would have said?
Yes, I said the same thing.
Coming up in the Calendar:
- July 15: Speak Now tour in Toronto, Ontario at Air Canada Centre. Sold Out.
- July 16: Speak Now tour in Toronto, Ontario at Air Canada Centre. Sold Out.
- July 19: Speak Now tour in Newark, New Jersey at Prudential Center. Sold Out.
- July 20: Speak Now tour in Newark, New Jersey at Prudential Center. Sold Out.
- July 23: Speak Now tour in Newark, New Jersey at Prudential Center. Sold Out.
- July 24: Speak Now tour in Newark, New Jersey at Prudential Center. Sold Out.