E. RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Taylor Swift's show at MetLife Stadium Friday night was all about the power of friendship -- even including a surprise appearance from the U.S. women's soccer team who rounded out a day of celebrating their World Cup victory with a flag-waving walk down a massive 50-yard catwalk with Heidi Klum.
It was the biggest of the many friend-driven spectacles during Swift's nearly two-and-a-half-hour show, underscoring her "1989" tour theme. "There was a time when I felt like I didn't have any real friends," Swift said in a lengthy wind-up to "All You Had to Do Was Stay." "Right now, fingers crossed, I feel like I have many wonderful friends in my life."
And those famous friends showed up all through the night. Actors Lena Dunham and Hailee Steinfeld and supermodels Gigi Hadid and Lily Aldridge showed up for support during "Bad Blood." The Weeknd popped in to do his summer smash "Can't Feel My Face" as a duet with Swift. And there were plenty of video testimonials from other members of Swift's squad, including Selena Gomez and Karlie Kloss, played during her costume changes.
The influence of other friends was also felt in subtler ways in Swift's music, as she showed off a bit of Ed Sheeran's famous sound looping during "Blank Space." Her reworking of "I Knew You Were Trouble" was filled with Lorde-ian drama in its stark opening, before it gave way to a more Eastern-influenced chorus.
Mostly, though, the support of Swift's friends showed in the swagger of her delivery of the synth-dominated songs from her platinum-in-a-week smash "1989." While Swift has always been a strong performer, on this tour she seems unstoppable -- as the companies who have gone up against her on the issue of artist royalties have found out.
Her voice seems more powerful in concert than it is on "1989," not because it is sweetened by her four backing vocalists, but because it is bravely turned up in the mix, where any misstep would be noticeable. There weren't any missteps.
Swift is so sure-footed in her performance now that you miss some of her charming vulnerability. Though most of her more questioning hits were absent from the setlist, there was a flash of it during the piano ballad "Wildest Dreams." But even the nervous "Out of the Woods" -- with its questioning mantra "Are we out of the woods yet Are we in the clear yet " -- was defiantly self-assured.
And Swift seemed focused on sharing her new outlook on life with her fans, reminding them not to compare their real lives with the "highlight reel" others present as their lives on social media. Her often-lengthy monologues to the fans slowed the momentum of the show, but they served as ways to underscore Swift's broader points.
"When we feel great amounts of joy or great amounts of pain, we turn to music," she said. "You are not the opinion of someone who doesn't know you."
SETLIST: Welcome to New York / New Romantics / Blank Space / I Knew You Were Trouble / I Wish You Would / How You Get the Girl / I Know Places / All You Had To Do Was Stay / Can't Feel My Face (w/The Weeknd) / You Are in Love / Clean / Love Story / Style / This Love / Bad Blood / We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together / Wildest Dreams / Out of the Woods / Shake It Off