By Kelsey Jochum, Entertainment Editor
Sparks flew and the audience cheered as Taylor Swift took the Qwest Center stage on May 28. Kicking off her “Speak Now” tour with two shows in Omaha, Swift opened the concert with the song “Sparks Fly,” and true to the song lyrics, the audience was showered with sparklers held by Swift’s performers as they floated above the stage.
Without losing any steam, the concert continued with just as much excitement as it started. In preparation for the fourth number, “Our Song,” the crew built a small set resembling a front porch. Matched with Swift’s banjo and the band’s ranch-style costumes, the next two songs presented a strong country feel to the audience.
As the stage darkened and Swift was lowered below, the audience was once again showered with small white flakes meant to look like snow. The audience prepared for Swift’s most popular hit from her new album, “Back to December.” Joined by nine violinists standing atop a large bridge, Swift was raised back onto the stage along with her piano, which she played while singing her riveting ballad.
Midway through her performance, Swift traveled along one of the side aisles to a miniature stage near the back of the room to allow the audience members in back to have a front-row seat. From there she played three songs, each accompanied by different lighting to evoke the appropriate emotion.
Returning to the main stage during an energetic performance of “You Belong With Me,” Swift continued to take her audience by surprise with quick costume changes and beautiful sets for each song.
Many audience members took the opportunity to sit during her more mellow performances of “Dear John” and “Enchanted.” All the same, the energy of the show was never lost. Towards the end of “Dear John” as Swift’s voice grew in intensity, fireworks began shooting from either side, creating a glittering arch
As Swift returned to the stage for the pre-finale song, “Long Live,” she couldn’t help but address her audience for their enthusiasm and support throughout the night.
“You guys have been so amazing,” Swift smiled. “So Omaha, tonight this song is for you.”
When the curtain reopened for the final time, the audience found Swift sitting on a couch, guitar in hand, preparing to sing another of her hits, “Fifteen.” As the band joined her on the couch, a slideshow of photos appeared on the back screen, showing each member as they are today and as they were at age fifteen.
In preparing for the finale, Swift took no shortcuts and showed the audience just how impressive a show she could put on. On what appeared to be a miniature balcony, Swift was raised above the audience and moved across the entire room throughout the length of the song, “Love Story.” As she returned on stage for the final moments of the concert, the crowd cheered for not only her, but her actors and band mates as well, without whom the show would have been far less spectacular.
Traveling with Swift on her tour are country bands Frankie Ballard and Need to Breathe, both of which gave impressive performances as well.
Swift fans or not, audience members couldn’t deny the performance was well planned and executed. Swift’s voice remained strong during the show, rising to both chilling heights and whispered lows that emphasized the personal emotion in her work. Nevertheless, Omaha can give itself some credit for the work Swift has put into her performances.
“You know, it wasn’t long ago that I performed on this exact stage, opening for someone far more famous than myself,” Swift said, explaining why she chose Omaha as the opening city for her tour.
“The audience here was so great, and that’s why I wanted to come back here to open the tour. Because you sing and dance and jump up and down, and I love you for it,” Swift said as she gave that coy, slightly sultry smile her audience knows so well.