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Originally published Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 10:19 AM

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Taylor Swift: Big-time star brings small-town warmth to Seattle's KeyArena

Taylor Swift alternated star-power and down-home charm at a May 15 concert at Seattle's KeyArena.

Special to The Seattle Times

Concert Review |

Small-town gal or big-time star? Taylor Swift's sold-out Friday night concert at KeyArena showed her trying to find a balance between the two.

For more than a few minutes at the start, it appeared that Disney had hijacked the show. Sure, Swift was singing her hit, "You Belong With Me." And, sure, she and her band and dancers were re-enacting the music video for said song, with the 19-year-old leggy blonde decked out in a marching band uniform. But there was just something too High School Musical and saccharine about the scene, complete with lockers and lots of cheerleader uniforms, to take it seriously.

It was a shame, since the tune is a catchy little upbeat pop song, one with a familiar Swift theme that, as the title says, is sung to a boy who is with the wrong girl. Partway through the tune, Swift became Ms. Right, losing the band uniform and revealing one of many sparkly mini dresses she donned during the course of the night.

The sparkles on the black and white dress matched her guitar as she moved into "Our Song," a hit from Swift's self-titled 2006 debut. The talented singer-songwriter played nearly 20 songs — including "Teardrops on My Guitar" and "Love Story" — from both of her albums during the more-than two-hour set that had fans screaming and on their feet from start to finish. The two-story stage at the Key had three winding staircases that Swift et al. made use of, a video screen that lined the back wall of the stage, and stage extensions into the audience that allowed fans a close-up view and maybe even a touch from Swift's hand.

Swift offered fans more than a touch during and after a three-song mostly acoustic set, as she played "Hey Stephen," "Fifteen" and fan favorite "Tim McGraw." She started this chunk of the show in the seats in the middle of fans, at the opposite end of the arena from the stage. As she made her way to a rotating stage on the floor, Swift provided genuine hugs to nearly every fan she passed. Later, she carried her own mike stand down one of those big staircases. Those kinds of moves make it easier to shove the Disney-fying of the night by the wayside. Here's hoping the talented young woman continues to move in that direction.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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