Taylor Swift performs in concert at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, April 11, 2013. (Joshua C. Cruey / Orlando Sentinel / April 11, 2013)
Once upon a time, heartbreak songs were called the blues, but that color doesn’t fit Taylor Swift.
“Red” is the title of the record-setting country crossover star’s latest album and tour, which opened a sold-out two-night stand with energy and eye-popping style on Thursday at Amway Center.
Red’s an appropriate shade for a singer who doesn’t wallow on the darker side of her love-gone-wrong songs. Most inspired exuberant sing-alongs on Thursday by her glow-stick-waving fans.
The high-pitched screaming threatened to compete with the opening “State of Grace,” an anthem that sounded vaguely U2-esque with its shimmering guitars, throbbing bass and drums.
It was part of an introductory salvo that also featured the hard-driving “Holy Ground” and “Red,” the title track of the 2012 album that sold a record-breaking 1.2 million copies in its debut week.
Red – the color, that is – was everywhere on the multi-level stage, equipped with a semi-circular runway that Swift used to bond with fans. Everything from the lighted stairs to her guitar, microphone, lipstick, fingernails and sequined shoes was color-coordinated.
The decorations merely reflected the emotions that powered the songs: passion, jealousy, anger, adolescent angst and joy.
Swift told the crowd that the “crazy” emotions range from loving someone to the point where “you never want to talk to them again and you write a whole album about it.”
Visually and musically, this was Swift’s most accomplished production yet.
Each song unfolded with theatrical flair, whether it was the nostalgic black-and-white film that introduced “The Lucky One,” a re-invention of “You Belong With Me” as a throwback to 1960s girl-group pop or the elaborately choreographed “22” that transported Swift to a satellite stage on the floor.
Opening act Ed Sheeran joined her on that small stage to duet on “Everything Has Changed,” a faithful reproduction of his work on the “Red” album.
In his own 40-minute solo set, Sheeran was captivating, electronically looping multiple guitar, vocal and percussion parts into lyrically dense, acoustic songs such as “Give Me Love” and “The A Team.”
Swift’s approach was less subtle in a two-hour performance that built to the confetti-doused finale, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
Maybe someday Swift will find love, but until then, she won’t be singing the blues.