PHOTOS and review: Taylor Swift at the Pepsi Center in Denver - Reverb

Live review: Taylor Swift @ the Pepsi Center

The Pepsi Center was a sparkly-and-shrieking cluster of girliness on Tuesday night. The three very young ladies in front of me were wearing tutus, and the two mom-fans behind me both had on well-worn Taylor Swift T-shirts from two records ago.

They were all there for the same reason: To celebrate their girl. And the 21-year-old pop star treated the sold-out Pepsi Center audience -– her third in less than two years -– to a set of hits that was proof of her massive, wide-ranging appeal and unflappable likability.

Swift threw out some heavies early on: “Sparks Fly,” “Mean” and an on-the-fly mash-up of her apologetic hit “Back to December” and OneRepublic’s “Apologize.” A woman of the people, Swift even got around in the crowd –- spending some time on a secondary stage near the soundboard for “Fearless.”

And “Fearless” encapsulated so much of what makes a Swift show special. The song featured only Swift’s voice and her ukulele, an instrument she bought in Hawaii, she said. And while the multi-instrumentalist isn’t known for complex compositions, she’s inspiring in the way she jumps from instrument to instrument.

“Back to December” was stunning and very sweet with Swift working a piano with casual ease. For other songs she donned a guitar. And early in the show, in a potent one-two punch that included “Our Song” and a particularly twanged-up “Mean,” Swift rocked a banjo as it was second nature.

Yet the show was hardly a sterling display of technicality. Swift and her band are solid players, but there were clearly a couple poorly synced moments, including a low point amid the alt-rock rager “Better Than Revenge.”

The show couldn’t have closed any stronger for Swift fans. A late-set take on her mega-hit “You Belong With Me” was the evening’s biggest singalong, and her letter to John Mayer, “Dear John,” was expectedly fiery, if a little drowsy. “Love Story” was an ideal pick for the encore, and her cover of the Fray’s “How to Save a Life” was a fitting tribute to the Mile High City.

Swift is still playing up the girl-next-door image. Still. But we’ll give her that. She’s the pop diva with a country past, and as she continues to reinvent herself over the next few years, we’ll surely start to see a different side of the hair-twirling, doe-eyed singer.

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Ricardo Baca is the founder and executive editor of Reverb, the co-founder of The UMS and an award-winning critic and journalist at The Denver Post.

John Leyba is a Denver Post photojournalist and regular contributor to Reverb.

  • Chibluesbandit

    Taylor only wore one outfit?

    • Chumba Onethousand

      Of course not. Taylor has nine costume changes on this tour. Rider (contractual) standards at any major concerts limit the press access to the first  3 or 4 songs.

  • Mary McKercher

    Taylor was AWESOME. We had such a good time.  Charlie Worsham was good. But NEED TO BREATHE was terrible! Too loud and distorted; he literally screamed into the microphone the entire time he was on. You could not make out what he was trying to sing. BLECH!

  • Lewis Cooper

    Fantastic photos John you really nailed this show, some pretty sweet lighting but I love the way you composed these photos, really well done.

  • achey_52403

    I don’t like the fact that you said Taylor lip sync’s.  I saw her show in Kansas City on Saturday, I did not see any evidence of lip syncing.  What made you think she lip synced?

    • The Swift Agency

      He never said lip synching. He said “a couple poorly synced moments.” Meaning that the reviewer though that Taylor was singing faster than the band was playing or the other way around (as in, they were not in synch). That was his take.