I went to see the Taylor Swift tour film last night. It’s one of the greatest live music things I’ve ever seen, and if you’re even vaguely interested in pop music it’s definitely worth a trip to the IMAX. Swift is a fantastic songwriter, an incredible performer and the sound and staging of the show are as good as it gets.
I’m well aware that I’m going to sound like an old woman saying this, but I am one so that’s how it’s going to come out. I think I enjoyed the tour movie more than I would have enjoyed the gig. It’s not just the ridiculous cost of tickets (the cheapest ones I saw were £300) and the travelling to Edinburgh, which is the nearest stop on the tour to me. It’s that an awful lot of people who go to gigs are awful, and have become more so since the COVID lockdowns. It’s not an original observation I know but it does feel like a lot of people forgot how to behave in public, and as a result gigs – particularly big gigs by famous people – are often ruined by shitfaced people loudly talking to their friends or worse, FaceTiming them and loudly yelling at the same time.
The other factor is the venues themselves. Football and rugby stadiums were built for football and rugby, not music, and they are places where sound goes to die. Unless you’re down by the front the wind carries a lot of the top end away, and your view will be of faraway screens. While the staging of Swift’s show (and of other big-gig masters such as U2) is built for big spaces and does a good job of spectacle, the view and sound and experience you get from the not-cheap seats isn’t close to what you get from the cosy seats of the IMAX. And yet while Swift tickets sold out in seconds for Edinburgh, the IMAX in Glasgow last night was only half full.