Pop review: Taylor Swift, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Cosy places such the Shepherd's Bush Empire can't figure much in Taylor Swift's schedule these days - the US's top-selling artist of 2008 must be more used to megadomes. Over here, however, she is just another in the parade of wholesome American teen-poppers who have recently been trying their luck. And so Swift got to play her London show without the benefit of her usual embellishments - what, no rotating stage? - and with barely a yard separating her from the breathless, mainly female, audience.

It would be the stuff of nightmares for many arena acts, but 19-year-old Swift is made of surprisingly adaptable stuff. It probably helps that her milieu is country-pop, a genre based on the principle that the show must go on, but it's still impressive how enthusiastically she gets stuck in. After a while, it dawns that there is a real musician at her core. Though her regulation blond bounciness and bubbly ditties about high-school Romeos make her deceptively similar to the likes of Miley Cyrus - there is also the matter of her gushing about our "adorable accents" - it seems Swift really cares about what she's doing.

Playing guitar or piano throughout, she makes the self-written songs from her album Fearless come alive. The punchy Hey Stephen contains the great line, "You choose those other girls, but would they write a song for you?", but she sounds defeated on the slow, quivering Tim McGraw. Happily, though, she ends by kicking a chair across the stage, which tips the already thrilled crowd into hysteria.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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