Tracing the tracks of her many selves. Taylor Swift's fixation with memory is given free reign in her new tour.

The most meaningful Taylor Swift recording of the past few years is almost certainly "All Too Well [10 minute version] [From the Vault]'' as layered provocative as its title is unwieldy.

A revision and expansion of one of her most gutting songs. -the original appears on her 2012  breakthrough pop album, ''Red'' - it dissects a problematic, lopsided and ultimately scarring relationship with forensic detail.

It's a scathing commentary on the ex who inspired the track, and it also has something to say about the version of Swift who first committed this story to song over a decade ago : Swift now understands things that Swift then couldn't possibly have known.

Around halfway through Swift's three-hour performance at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz, on March 17 - the opening night of the Eras Tour, her first roadshow in five years - she was at the center of the long runway stage, elevated on a platform, holding 70,000 people rapt with this tale of righteous fury and anguish.

Plenty were singing along with her, but somehow, the accumulated voices sounded like one huge hush, students in awe of the masterclass.

There were plenty of peaks during this concert drawn from the full arc of Swift's career - the first of a sold-out 52-date tour of the United States that made news for its disastrous rollout of ticket sales  -but none quite like this.

Throughout the night, she zigzagged between stretches of high-octane hits from older albums and mixed-bag selections from more recent ones -celebration with splashes of duty.

What this ambitious and energetic if sometimes scattershot performance underscored, however, was just how many pivots Swift has undertaken in her career, and how the accompanying risks can have wildly different consequences.

In modern pop parlance, album rollouts are often described as eras, But Swift's career hasn't always been that cleanly delineated.

She's made a few key turns over the years, though -on ''Red,'' when she divebombed into gleaming, centrist pop; on ''Reputation,'' when she made some of her sleekest and most au courant music; and on ''Folklore'' and ''Evermore,'' when she transformed into a woodland fairy.

SONGS from ''Red,'' one of Swift's most acclaimed albums, arrived mid-show, and they were potent wallops - a jubilant and cheeky ''22''followed by the indignant '' We Are Never Ever Getting BackTogether '' and '' I Knew You Were Trouble.''

And when Swift, in a one-legged bodysuit embroidered with a snake motif, performed selections from ''Reputation,'' she showed just how wrongly maligned that album was upon its release.

'' Don't Blame Me '' was husky and alluring, while '' Look What You Made Me Do,'' performed in front of dancers trapped in glass boxes dressed as old versions of Swift, brimmed with attitude.

Before '' You Belong With Me,'' she asked if the crowd was ''ready to go back to high school with me,'' both a dare and a legitimate question.Of late, Swift - obsessive about memory and even more obsessive about lore  -has made revisiting her old work integral to her public presentation.

Her ongoing recordings project layers a veneer of artistic liberation atop a business tug of war with the owners of her master recordings.

There was a distinct shimmer that ran through the night's final three selections , the tinny  ''Bejewelled,'' the spacey ''Mastermind'' and the needling ''Karma.'' 

All of those songs, which can be brittle from a lyrical perspective, benefited from the scale of the production here.

But something far more meaningful had come just before that show-closing run. During an acoustic segment, she came out to the very farthest point of the stage, sat at a small piano and played her very first single, '' Tim McGraw.''

In addition to '' All Too Well '' [ 10 minutes version ], ''it was the night's other pillar performance. It's a song about memory and the way in which people fail each other, and she sang it heavy with regret and tinged with sweetness.

But unlike ''All Too Well,'' which now benefits from the wisdom that time affords, ''Tim McGraw'' remained as raw as the day it was recorded. No real tweaks, no rejoinder from the new Swift to the old one - just a searing take on the sort of love that makes for a better song than relationship.

There are some things Swift simply has understood all along.

 The World Students Society thanks author Jon Caramanica.


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