City of Lover
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|Date||September 9, 2019|
City of Lover was a one-day concert by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was held at the Olympia theater in Paris, France, on September 9, 2019, slightly over two weeks after the release of Swift's seventh studio album Lover (2019).
The concert was reserved for fans who had won exclusive tickets through online contests or album purchases. The set list consisted of sixteen songs, with eight songs from Lover and eight songs from Swift's back catalog. The City of Lover concert ran for a duration of one hour, and was the only concert that Swift held at a music venue to promote Lover, after the planned sixth concert tour Lover Fest world tour was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 15, 2020, a TV special titled Taylor Swift: City of Lover, filmed at the concert, was broadcast on ABC in the United States. Compared to the original concert, the TV special only included the eight songs from Lover, and ran for 42 minutes including commercials.
The City of Lover concert and its corresponding TV special received positive reviews from media publications, who lauded Swift's intimate performances with fans and stage presence. Some publications noted that Swift's concert at the Olympia—a venue with a 2,000-seat capacity—was a rare move for her after her 2018 Reputation Stadium Tour, which sold out venues with tens of thousand of seats. A few critics complained that the TV special should have included the whole sixteen-song set list instead of just the eight Lover songs. The TV special was made available on Hulu and Disney+ for a few weeks since May 16, 2020.
American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her seventh studio album, Lover, on August 23, 2019, through Republic Records. Described by Swift as a "love letter to love itself", Lover explores the "full spectrum of love", inspired by the connections with fans during Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour (2018). The album received positive reviews from critics, who lauded its free-spirited production Swift's songwriting for showcasing her maturity as an artist. It enjoyed commercial success, peaking atop the albums chart in countries including Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and was the world's best-selling album by a solo artist of 2019.
To celebrate the album's release, Swift held the City of Lover concert, a one-off concert at the Olympia music hall in Paris, France, on September 9, 2019. Prior to the event, tickets were not available for the public, but were reserved to fans who had bought the album to enter online contests from a select 37 countries around the world. Due to the event's secrecy among selected fans, there were no widespread promotional campaigns for it. The City of Lover concert was the only concert Swift held at a music hall to accompany Lover, after the planned Lover Fest concert tour was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City of Lover concert marked Swift's first concert at a music hall in France since her 2011 Speak Now World Tour—she had also held a small performance on a boat by the Seine in 2013 to perform songs from Red. Concertgoers were given LED-illuminated wristbands that flickered and flashed in sync with each song Swift played. The title of the concert is based on the nickname of Paris as the "City of Love". There were a total of approximately 2000 attendees, all of whom had won tickets to the concert through online contests or album purchases. The concert's set list is primarily made up of songs from Lover, including the singles "Me!", "You Need to Calm Down", "Lover", "The Man", and the album tracks "The Archer", "Death by a Thousand Cuts", "Cornelia Street", and "Daylight".
Swift opened the concert with "Me!", and two of her previous singles: "Blank Space" (from her 2014 album 1989) and "I Knew You Were Trouble" (from her 2012 album Red). She proceeded with "The Archer", over dense synth reverberation, before performing two songs from her back catalog—"Love Story" (from her 2008 album Fearless) and "Delicate" (from her 2017 album Reputation). After "Delicate", Swift explained to the audience about her songwriting process and introduced them to an "acoustic session" which featured songs she performed on an acoustic guitar and a piano: "With this album, everything I wrote, I wrote it with one instrument. I wrote with my guitar or with my piano, so I thought to myself that I wanted to try them out for you. sing the same way tonight, live, because this is my first time playing them in front of you."
During the acoustic session, Swift performed stripped-down versions of "Death by a Thousand Cuts", "Cornelia Street", and "The Man". In-between each song, Swift shared with the audience her songwriting inspiration and context. She then performed two songs from Red—"Red" and "All Too Well"—on a grand piano. She followed with "Daylight" before embracing a more upbeat sound for "Style" (from 1989). Two songs from Lover—"You Need to Calm Down" and "Lover"—followed, before the concert wrapped with "Shake It Off"—the lead single from 1989. The City of Lover concert ended without an encore.
Television and digital releases
On May 17, 2020, the concert was aired as a one-hour special, titled Taylor Swift: City of Lover, on ABC. The following day, it was made available for on-demand streaming on Hulu and Disney+. Media publications opined that the release was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to Swift's planned Lover Fest world tour to support Lover being postponed, and ultimately cancelled. While the actual concert consisted of 16 songs and ran for an hour, the TV special only included the eight songs from Lover, and ran for a length of 42 minutes (including commercials). The ABC premiere attracted 3.63 million viewers. Following the ABC premiere, the live versions of the Lover songs were released to digital music and streaming platforms, except the live version of "The Man", which had been released to the platforms on February 18, 2020.
Upon completion, the City of Lover concert received positive feedback from the European media. Most critics were particularly fond of the acoustic session, which showcased Swift's songwriting crafts and intimate connections with the audience. The French magazine Melty deemed it a "memorable night". Hannah Mylrea from the British magazine NME gave the concert a five-star rating, lauding Swift's stage presence and intimate interaction with the audience. Mylrea was also impressed by the acoustic renditions, which showcased not only Swift's songwriting crafts but also her vocals. Also awarding the concert a five-star rating, Sarah Carson from the British newspaper i gave the concert a five-star rating, lauding Swift as a "confident and commanding performer" with a more laid-back and self-asserted attitude. Carson was impressed by Swift's performance at the 2,000-seat Olympia rather than stadiums as on her previous world tour, Reputation Stadium Tour (2018): "It's one of the inevitable tragedies of fame that when a singer-songwriter transcends to 'superstar', world tours and stadiums and spectacles shove special little gigs like this to distant memory – to see Swift so close, in a historic room, all gilt and deep red velvet, was a privilege." In an article for the French magazine Les Inrockuptibles, Ahlem Khattab noted that Swift had had limited commercial success in France, because she had prioritized the English-speaking countries and East Asia. Through the City of Lover concert, Swift proved herself to be a capable musician and performer, which could possibly pave a path to French success for Swift.
The ABC TV special received positive reviews in the American press, although some critics felt that the 42-minute run was rather too short. Chris Willman of Variety lauded Swift's storytelling abilities through both her songs and her conversations regarding behind-the-scene conception of her music. Willman was also impressed by Swift's simplistic appearance in a black dress and black boots, and the minimal lighting, which fostered an intimate setting. Alexis Lanza from North by Northwestern was similarly positive, but questioned whether Swift only included the Lover songs was the result of the ongoing masters controversy with Swift's former record label. In The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dan DeLuca considered the concert to be a showcase of Swift's "gift for marrying personal stories to undeniable pop hooks", but felt that the 42-minute run was not successful in promoting Lover—a "not-so-new-anymore album"—and the TV special should have included the whole set list.
- "Blank Space"
- "I Knew You Were Trouble"
- "The Archer"
- "Love Story"
- "Death by a Thousand Cuts"
- "Cornelia Street"
- "The Man"
- "All Too Well"
- "You Need to Calm Down"
- "Shake It Off"
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- Carson, Sarah (September 10, 2019). "Taylor Swift – City of Lover, L'Olympia, Paris: this tiny show was magical, intimate, and unique". i. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
- Garvey, Marienne (May 18, 2020). "Taylor Swift's 'City of Lover Concert' was an intimate, stripped-down performance". CNN. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
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