Taylor Swift’s “City of Lover Concert” aired on ABC on May 17 at the most prime of times, following the season ending “American Idol.”
“City of Lover” snapped Swifties back to the painfully inaccessible recent past.
The hourlong show was recorded in September at the Olympia theater in Paris, shortly after the release of “Lover,” Swift’s seventh album and her most mature to date.
“City of Lover,” which is now streaming on Hulu and Disney+, was staged before 2,800 excitable fans crammed into a space intimate by the standards of Swift, who typically plays arenas and stadiums.
Watching “City of Lover” on lockdown reminds us of the thrill of hearing musicians we love while actually standing alongside fellow music lovers who share our ardor. Remember that?
The show was part of a Swift promotional run for “Lover,” and the only proper full-length concert with a band that she performed. (In the U.S., she did do a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR music that was a solo enterprise.)
With all of Swift’s 2020 dates canceled, “City of Lover” is going to have to do to tide fans over until the tour can be rescheduled in 2021.
The “City of Lover” show, edited for TV, is enticing. But it’s also frustratingly brief. Swift is justifiably proud of her songwriting on the album, which finds her largely getting past the obsession with haters that began to be a drag by 2017’s “Reputation.”
And for anyone who hasn’t been paying attention to her accomplishments over the last decade, her gift for marrying personal stories to undeniable pop hooks is on full display.
There were a few big production numbers. The opening, “Me!,” benefited greatly from being disassociated from its cotton-candy video clip with Brendan Urie of Panic at the Disco! (absent here). And the show closed with a full-band treatment of “Lover’s” title cut.
But for the most part, Swift was alone on stage, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar or piano, giving her fans something to shriek about by sharing a big reveal or two.
The whole performance is energized with the kick that comes from playing songs in public for the first time. (Not knowing it would be the last time, for awhile.)
But with a full load of commercials, some starring Swift, the whole show amounted to 42 minutes of music, with all eight songs, including a touching “Daylight” and pointed “The Archer,” coming from Lover.
That’s understandable, with a new-at-the-time album to promote. But the actual Olympia concert was 16 songs long, with eight songs from Swift’s ample catalog, such as the masterful “All Too Well” and of course, a “Shake It Off” encore.