TAYLOR SWIFT, Hyde Park – Evening Standard, 29 June 2015


Taylor Swift kept her friends close and her enemies some distance away as she performed to 65,000 fans in Hyde Park on Saturday. While her stage-invading nemesis Kanye West was safely committed to being over a hundred miles away at Glastonbury, the pop powerhouse produced a stream of starry pals to strut down a long catwalk into her audience.

A Union Jack-waving Cara Delevingne joined Serena Williams, Kendall Jenner and more for surprise cameos during Style. Meanwhile on the big screens, more luminaries lined up to proclaim the wonders of Swiftian friendship, including the Haim sisters, Selena Gomez and Lena Dunham. What the wide-eyed worshippers on the ground learned was that if you want to be Taylor’s real friend (no guys allowed) it helps if you’re successful and attractive, or if all else fails, a cat.

But these alpha females aren’t the only ones who think she’s top dog right now. The entire music business loves her after last week’s announcement from Apple. At her behest, their new streaming service will now pay royalties during its free trial period after all. It caps a year in which her latest album, 1989, has been the world’s biggest seller, and as with Adele before her, there’s no sign of a backlash on the way.

The album marks the moment that her music shifted from being of interest mostly to teenage girls to appealing across the board. In concert, songs such as Out of the Woods and How You Get the Girl felt effortless but were honed to pop perfection. The collection dominated the setlist, with the former country starlet only briefly clutching an acoustic guitar. She preferred strutting across a vast rotating bridge in spirited routines with 12 male dancers, with a new microphone to match every costume change. Even oldies such as Love Story were given a 1989 makeover, amping up the synths and the energy.

Between the celebrity ego boosts she lifted her lowlier followers too, with several long speeches about self-worth. Raising their flashing wristbands, they hung gratefully on every word. Her star power is trickling downwards, and there’s more than enough to go around.