Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Review: Taylor Swift at 3Arena

Who: Taylor Swift, aka Tay Tay
Where: 3Arena, Dublin
When: 29th June 2015

Tickets to this event were like gold dust, and it's no surprise when you look at how Swift has soared in popularity over this last year. The 3Arena was filled with 13,000 fans all eager to here her sing, but because of the size of the venue it didn't feel claustrophobic. This is so important as when you're standing the worst thing is to feel like you have a hundred thousand people on top of you. At no point in the night did it feel like the crowd was overwhelming or out of control, and I think a special kudos should be paid to the security staff here for maintaining crowd order and stopping problems before they began. So often we only focus on who is playing a venue but before I even talk about Taylor I want to commend everyone who worked that night for the excellent job they did looking after all the concert goers.

The worst part about a concert is usually the wait for the show to begin because it's all of the standing and close body contact without any of the show to distract you. I love that Swift thought ahead and played us videos while we waited. We saw exclusive behind the scenes footage, learnt some 1989 trivia and got to see more of the girl behind the music. And her cats (which obviously drew major bonus points from me as Ireland's craziest cat lady). Videos were also shown between songs while the crew were changing the set which, again, was a great idea because it gave a good lead on to the next song by giving us some back story and also a look into Taylor's life (but more importantly there was more cat footage).

The setlist focused mainly on her 1989 album but threw in old classics such as 'Love Story' and 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together'. Swift kept things fresh by giving these songs a new twist which made them seamlessly blend into the 1989-focused night, There's always a danger when an artist messes with well loved songs that the new mix will mar the sound, but it worked really well on the night.
Swift's performance throughout the night was thoroughly on point. She kept the mood light and seemed ecstatic to be there with us. Every one of her songs were delivered with the perfection we've come to expect, but she maintained an air of realism. I've seen artists who are so concentrated on delivering their performance it's as if they're singing to an empty room, but not Swift.

The only thing about the show that I didn't enjoy was the inspirational speeches she kept making. They were all very positive and peppy. She spoke about loving who you are, not focusing on the negatives you see in the mirror and having good friends. All lovely stuff. But I've already been through puberty so it had a substantially less powerful impact on me. I get why she did it. There were younger fans there and those words will have meant a lot to them. It's certainly a better message to be sending to young girls than you'd better be thin and put out or no one will like you but equally I feel she dwelled on it a bit too much because once you're in your late teens/early twenties (as about half the fans there were) hearing those sort of things is just cringey.

One thing I will hold Swift up for though is her ability to make it through an entire show without swearing, without stripping down to her pants, and without dancing as if she was on a pole. It's so refreshing. Swift doesn't need those cheap tricks because she already has talent, both as a singer and as a musician (she played both the guitar and the keyboard on the night, although not simultaneously). It's nice to see that talent shining through.
However, just because she didn't bare all her flesh doesn't mean she didn't look incredible. I lost count of the outfit changes she did but each was as fantastic as the next. My personal favourite was a pink co-ord with LED lights which flashed in time with the music (sounds beyond tacky but I guess you had to be there).
The back up dancers were also dressed sharply. The highlight of their outfits for me was when Taylor was singing 'Style' and they came out in Heelys. Who said Americans don't understand irony?

All in all it was a wonderful night and well worth the drive across the country, the hours of waiting, and the sizeable dent in €100 for the ticket.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

6 Sad Truths About The Irish Summer

1) You'll find yourself in a jumper in mid-July. Even if the weather picks up enough to risk wearing a halterneck top you'll still be clutching a cardie under your arm all the livelong day.
2) At the first sign of sun your mother will be washing every item of clothing the family owns, all the towels, all the bedsheets, your neighbours' gear, the local GAA team's kit, the clothes again (just to be sure) and she might buy some new things just to wash those too.
3) If it's too hot to cook (anything above 14 degrees) you'll enjoy 'a lovely salad' every evening. This dish stars iceberg lettuce, a boiled egg, tomatoes that will leach water all over your plate, lashings of Heinz salad cream, and if your mother is feeling especially fancy you may see some pasta salad from Supervalu's salad bar.
4) Our seasons are out of sync with the rest of Europe's so what we call summer is spring in other places. A rose by any other name would still be as rainy and overcast.
Of course, you could always catch the classic farmer's tan. The deepest shade of brown clashing with milkbottle white is overdue to come into fashion.
5) If you want any hope of catching a decent tan you'll have to leave the country. If you manage to afford this luxury it's guaranteed that the second you step on the plane Ireland will become a tropical paradise until the moment you arrive back.
6) We all become a bit excited when new potatoes start appearing with dinner.