Platinum-selling pop superstar Taylor Swift performed the first of four concerts at Staples Center on Monday night, but if you've got a young daughter you probably already knew that. The sold out gig was the 51st stop on her massive "Red" tour, and by now it's a smooth-running machine -- but filled with the kind of drama that drives arenas-full of eager fans crazy.
We'll have a full review of the show in a few hours, but for now here are five thoughts on America's most famous young musician and her touring extravaganza.
1. Strategically, the opening gig of Swift's Los Angeles run was timed perfectly: At the tail end of summer vacation, after camp's done but just before school starts. Staples for many was the final mother-daughter event of the season (with a few random dads looking like lost boats floating at sea), and the girls were abuzz. Few things are more joyous, after all, than a first concert, and for many in the crowd this was a moment they'll recall forever.
2. You know you're in for a musical spectacle when sparks start shooting from the ceiling during the first song, as happened during "State of Grace." Such grand gestures, usually the stuff of finales, occurred often. Every song was a new event: she danced with music box figurines come to life. She floated on the shoulders of her dancers through the crowd and to the opposite end of the arena, where she performed songs close to the cheaper seats. She was lifted over the crowd on a platform -- to the sound of wails below.
3. The equivalent of a touring Cirque du Soleil production, Swift's tour is too massive to offer much true spontaneity, and as such the set list was nearly identical to most stops on the tour: She focused on her most recent album, "Red," and offered the hits. That makes sense, of course. Swift was never a busker, and she carried herself through the many choreographed demands with effortless grace.
4. Still, she left some room for surprises -- which arrived courtesy of two special guests. British singer Cher Lloyd dueted with Swift on Lloyd's hit "Want U Back." And near the end, songwriter Sara Bareilles arrived to work out "Brave" with Swift by her side.
5. Opener Ed Sheeran continued his quest to charm the American masses, succeeding with an assured, confident set. He's already won over many souls with his mega-hit "The A-Team," but on Monday he further spread his message. Employing a sample box that allowed him to craft loops on the fly, Sheeran built big songs using just his guitar and voice. And he did a fantastic version of Britney Spears' "... One More Time," to boot.
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