One Question Quiz
Who needs tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour? (Image: Archi Banal)
Who needs tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour? (Image: Archi Banal)

Pop CultureOctober 29, 2023

Review: The Eras Tour, live* in Christchurch

Who needs tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour? (Image: Archi Banal)
Who needs tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour? (Image: Archi Banal)

Life hack: Alex Casey gets front row seats to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour for just $25 – and a lot less stress.

Whether it’s selling bags of confetti for hundreds of dollars or adorning Nicole Kidman with armfuls of friendship bracelets she definitely didn’t want, Swifties are known for their entrepreneurship and enthusiasm when it comes to Taylor Swift’s Eras tour. And, as it turns out, the Swifties of Ōtautahi are no exception. At the very first screening of the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Film, one fan was overheard at Hoyts EntX negotiating with the cashier about the free refills that came with his plastic Eras Tour tumbler. 

“Can I get my free drink in another cup?” he asked confidently, clearly looking to preserve the integrity of the tumbler. The cashier looked perplexed, and said she would have to check. After pawing at her touchscreen for a moment and doing a spot of long division behind the eyes, we had an answer. “I think, yeah, that should be fine” she shrugged. The victorious fan returned to the candy bar to fill up his bonus paper cup, filming and narrating the whole experience on social media for what one can only assume is a global cabal of cup collectors. 

At this point, it’s worth pointing out how much more pleasant it was to purchase tickets for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (in New Zealand cinemas 2023) than Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (in Australian stadiums 2024). After firewalking through hell on that loading page and having already watched the entire concert in grainy, shaky clips on YouTube, I figured I might as well see the show in slightly higher definition. Instead of dropping thousands on flights, accommodation and tickets, it was a lot easier to stomach the $24.89 entry price (also… Taylor was 24 when she made 1989… she never stops). 

I purchased my popcorn and got settled into a leather lounger in front of the giant Xtreme Screen, not a soul within a 10 metre radius (it was 12pm on a Thursday after all). With the trailer for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes providing a fitting opening act, the film began among the candy-floss Lover era clouds, high above the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. As Swift’s familiar “it’s been a… looong…. tiiime… coooom-ing” crooned and the clock onscreen struck midnight, I instantly got chills and felt a single pathetic tear in my eye. 

The film’s editors mercifully anticipated the loneliness of a 32-year-old crying over a pop concert on a Thursday afternoon, and kindly cut to many, many close-ups of other people clutching their hearts and sobbing throughout the opening numbers of ‘Miss Americana’ and ‘Cruel Summer’. Although I’m sure it’s not quite the same as being surrounded by 100,000 people screaming “HE LOOKS UP GRINNING LIKE A DEVIL”, the constant return to the emotion of the crowd was a good reminder that concerts are as much about the attendees as they are the stars. 

Great seats at the Eras Tour

Filmed with over 40 cameras over three nights, you get even closer to the action than a kid waiting stageside to receive a bowler hat. In close-up you can see the dancers’ dedication to their office worker roles in ‘The Man’, you can see the label on the bottle of wine Swift pours during ‘tolerate it’, you can see the fact that one of her guitarists is absolutely rocking a Sue Nicholson haircut. All details you’d never catch otherwise, all highlighting just how many people are involved in this enormous, historic, record-shattering production. 

The proximity of the camera also adds a superhuman dimension to Swift – where are the pores? – which gratefully erodes as the hours tick by, the sweat forms on her upper lip, and the curls fight their way through her sleek tresses. While much of the banter between songs and costume change breaks have been trimmed for time, there are still some dork flourishes which attempt to maintain some veneer of relatability. “What am I doing here?” Swift asks, staring at her own awkwardly splayed arms, as if seeing them for the first time in her life, “what is this?”

Whatever it was, I had a great time singing along to songs about being heartbroken at high school and ignoring the sad reality that I was actually an adult sitting in the dark, a stone’s throw away from the South Island’s only Holey Moley. It was a surprisingly emotional concert simulation, not dissimilar to an experience I had last month at ABBA Voyage in London. The multi-million dollar show combined motion capture, 65 million pixels, a purpose-built arena and literal witchcraft to make heyday ABBA appear as if they are performing live onstage.

In the moments after the digital “ABBA-tars” first appeared, I turned back to look at the 3000-strong crowd. Women in platinum blonde wigs had their mouths agape and men in shiny metallic shirts held their hands to their cheeks as digital Anna-Frid, straight out of 1979, twirled under the spotlight in her shimmering red sequin cape. “Hello London” waved digital Bjorn. “This is so fucked up” my partner shrieked involuntarily. The gushing reviews had all been right, the breathless pull quotes no exaggeration – it really, truly, was like they were right in front of us. Especially when I took my glasses off. 

Even though we all spent the night clapping and cheering at what was essentially a giant fancy television screen, all the emotions were still very real. Boogying to ‘Dancing Queen’ with some of my oldest friends, just as we had done when we were young, sweet, only 17 etc, left me teary. Even the most stock-still of middle-aged men couldn’t resist the stormer chorus of ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’. Everyone was in ribbons for ‘Thank You For the Music’ by the end of the night. “WE LOVE YOU” a man in a shiny shirt shouted at what was essentially a series of 1s and 0s. 

Just like watching the Eras Tour film, it was strange to feel so palpably moved by a concert experience that wasn’t strictly… real. Even though Christchurch didn’t quite deliver the singing and dancing of other screenings, nothing was realer than the Swift superfan protecting his coveted collectors cup, or the little girl in the bathroom belting out the hits of 1989, or the eager beavers grasping their Eras popcorn buckets awaiting the next session, grinning expectantly as we walked out bleary-eyed. “Wasn’t it great?” said a woman while drying her hands in the toilet afterwards. “I think it’s better than actually being there.” 

The Eras Tour is in cinemas nationwide now.

Keep going!