While the Fargodome is usually packed with blaring Bison fans decked out in green and gold, this weekend Fargo was seeing only one color: red.
Music icon Taylor Swift visited the Fargodome on Friday as part of her “Red” tour. Over 20,000 screaming fans filled the venue for a night of glittery grandeur. The 23-year-old singer’s latest album, 2012’s “Red,” has been her most pop-rock inspired record since hitting it big with her 2008 self-titled debut. Swift described her motivation for naming the album “Red,” saying that in relationships, she experiences a wide spectrum of emotions, “sadness being blue, longing being dark grey,” and ultimately, love being red. So it was no surprise that the Fargodome was drenched in the crimson color, from her microphone to her grand piano.
Casey James kicked off the night with a set of his original music. James, known as the third-place finisher of American Idol’s ninth season, proved his performance prowess by shredding his electric guitar on his well-known single, “Crying on a Suitcase.”
Next to take the stage was Grammy-nominated, British musician Ed Sheeran, who has been Swift’s opening act throughout the tour. Sheeran entranced the crowd with his musical ubiquity, using a looper pedal to record all of his background music as he banged on his guitar and sang the harmonies to his singles “Lego House” and “A-Team.” His mind-blowing indie rap style coupled with his rendition of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” hyped up the crowd for the main event.
Swift took the stage at about 8:30 p.m., and for two hours, her stunning spectacles of singing and dancing captivated the crowd.
“Taylor didn’t just get on stage and sing a song like some artists might. She engaged the audience and put on such an amazing performance,” said MSUM senior Hailee Palony. “Every last detail of the show, from the lights to the way the stage is set up, you know she put her all into making it the best for fans.”
Swift started the show with her album opener “State of Grace,” beginning the song silhouetted behind a red veil. Once the curtain dropped revealing the songstress to the audience, there was no turning back: the crowd was hers.
“Holy Ground” was next on the set. It included a drumming interlude by which Swift and her back-up dancers pounded on glowing drums, some of them flying through the air while doing it. She then transitioned into one of her most successful songs, “You Belong with Me.”
While Swift performed costume changes, videos were played on the screens to entertain the audience. The first mini-film was retro-style, portraying Swift as a movie star from the 30’s. In it she discussed how difficult living in the light is, saying, “People build you up so they can tear you down… but they haven’t yet,” causing the crowd to erupt in screaming support. She ascended from the stage in flapper apparel, singing “Lucky One.”
“I love how she can stay true to herself,” said MSUM senior Ellen Johnson. “She grew up in the spotlight and has handled it very well. She shows us that you can have fame without going wild or crazy.”
The breakout song of the night was her mega-hit “22,” during which she fell into the crowd and was carried by dancers to the second stage built in the back of the arena. There she performed four songs, including the duet, “Everything Has Changed” with Sheeran.
After making her way back to the main stage during “Sparks Fly,” she brought the house down with her dubstep single, “I Knew You Were Trouble” that included both a costume change and a techno jam session.
Perhaps the most emotional number of the night was “All Too Well,” a love ballad rumored to be about her relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal. Swift sat at the red grand piano and poured her soul into the song, even stopping partway through to take a dramatic pause.
“She puts her heart into every single song, and you can feel the emotions she is feeling and it makes you – even if you’re sitting way up in the nose bleeds – feel the same way,” Palony said.
Swift closed the show with her first single off the album, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” during which she was brought over the crowd on a crane. Swift had her fans sing along the chorus before she descended underneath the stage.
In a recent interview, Swift said that she recognizes it has become the cool thing to make fun of her and her dating history. Despite this, she still writes about love – and continues to break records in doing so.
“People judge and criticize her, but I would dare them to go to one concert and see how they feel after,” Johnson said.
No doubt, they would feel red.
BY BRIAN ASHBURN