As the day starts I’m pretty sure I’ve never been as prepared for anything as I am for these sick beats.

Between the Eras Tour movie (twice), the concert-themed Spotify playlists, the steady stream of Instagram stories, the books bought as Christmas presents and the excited in-car and in-kitchen conversations and singalongs, I reckon I could handily win Mastermind with Taylor Swift as my chosen specialist topic.

The Pope house, where I’m blessed amongst women, has been all in on the Eras tour for over a year and it has been impossible not to get caught up in the gloriously mental hope of it all.

That stress-filled day on a sun-kissed campsite when two Macs and an iPad overheated in their furious efforts to source tickets for one of her three Dublin dates has faded to distant memory.

I overheated too that day, truth be told but I’ve almost forgotten how financially ruinous the experience ended up being.

Almost. The tickets for five people were eye-wateringly expensive but while some people might – and indeed already have – questioned the wisdom of the penny-pinching Pricewatch dude being so careless with his cash, by my reckoning, we didn’t just buy tickets or shimmering outfits or bracelet making kits or merch or any of that other stuff.

We also bought 12 months of excitement and anticipation as well as a lifetime of post-Taylor memories.

And that seems like value for money to me.

Speaking of value, after much thought – okay, no thought at all – I’m going to the first of Taylor Swift’s three nights in Dublin in my Evermore era because it’s basically just a plaid shirt, the same one I wore to the opening night of the Eras tour movie, and I’m nothing if not thrifty.

I am also practical. It’s chilly and cloudy as we get ready and my heavy shirt will keep me warm.

Keeping warm is not front of mind for the rest of my party. I suggest that maybe my daughters should wear jackets – or maybe a plaid shirt?

The stares I get back are baleful.

Two ignore me entirely. “You want me to change the outfit I have been planning for a year?” the third says. “And wear a plaid shirt?”

Um, no?


“Can we put sequins all over your head, like a mirror ball?” my children ask brightly.

Um, no?

We settle on face glitter and hand glitter and then just a touch of head glitter and we’re off.

We park in the city centre ahead of the long march to Dublin 4 and as we cross the canal we’re stopped by Megan Grogan looking for directions.

She’s just flown in from LA and is getting her bearings. She’s not going out tonight but is heading to Swift’s second concert. “I just want to get a sense of the geography of the place so we don’t get lost tomorrow,” she says.

Was 6,000 miles not a long way to come for Taylor Swift?

“It was I suppose, especially as I’ve seen her on this tour already, but my friend here hasn’t,” she says, gesturing at the woman beside her. “It was impossible to get a ticket in the US and eat and pay rent at the same time so coming to Dublin was cheaper,” she said.

Dublin cheap? Who knew?

With her bearings established, Grogan’s only worry now is the Tortured Pilots Department. “We’re flying with Aer Lingus on Tuesday,” she says. “And we don’t know if we’ll be able to go,” she said. “But hopefully things will be fixed by then.”

As she talks, a man walks past – one of a handful on the streets. “I’m Swiftie by choice,” his T-shirt reads. “My daughter’s choice.”

We exchange a meaningful look and I can tell he’s as impressed by the practicality of my plaid shirt as I am by his plain-speaking tee.

The stadium looms large and a fierce-looking goth girl in PVC, fishnets and vertiginous black boots approaches my children. In the sweetest Northern accent she says ‘Do you want to swap?”

On a bangle in her hand dangle dozens of home-made friendship bracelets matched by the ones on my children’s arms. A deal is done and we move on. The scene is repeated over and over and over again as we thread our way through the sparkling summer crowd. It really is the sweetest thing.

I have a few bracelets myself but no one offers to swap with me. It’s for the best. They are not designed for my chunky wrists: the ones I have are cutting off the circulation to my fingers and it’s not yet 4pm.

We make it inside the stadium and to our seats via the merch stall. Close to us is a man of a similar age to me wearing a Tortured Dads Department t-shirt.

Why did no one tell me there was a comedy T-shirt dress code for the dads here today?

This dad’s name is Adam Francis-Verbeelen and his family travelled from Austin, Texas for the weekend. “There is such a big mark-up on tickets over there,” he says.

And is he a big Swiftie?

“Oh, you know,” he says, his henna face tattoos running slightly more visibly than my glitter paint. “Not as much as she is,” he continues looking at his daughter Gabby. “But I get to see her smile and that is worth everything.”

Shortly after 6pm Paramore take the stage with lead singer Haley Williams sporting a Cranberries T-shirt. The band are brilliant and brilliantly loud but not so loud that they can disturb my six-year-old’s nap.

We’ve to wake her just after 7.10pm, when the countdown clock appears. I’m given a last-minute chant grind by my older girls but suddenly I feel all at sea. I thought I was ready for it. But I’m not, as it turns out, ready for it.

I’m not sure I could ever be ready for an experience that is as close to a young people of Ireland-fuelled religious awakening as I’m likely to get. And I’m old enough to have seen the Pope in Galway. Although all I remember about that soggy affair was that when the climax came and the man in the white and green sparkles and pointy hat said his famous I Luf You line, I was trapped in a portaloo so missed it entirely.

But that’s a story for another day.

Now it is Taylor Time.

Suddenly there she is on stage and on the massive screen behind it like a giant, a bejewelled monster on the hill and she’s ready to make our whole world shimmer.

And believe me when I say that for the next three hours and 20 minutes the world around me shimmers.

I wasn’t born when the Beatles were famously drowned out by teenage screams in New York’s Shea Stadium but it seems impossible to me that those young ones could possibly have screamed louder than our young ones. I’ve been to many hundreds of concerts – in tiny venues and massive arenas – and have never, ever heard screams like these.

And the screaming continues throughout the set with virtually every song Taylor sings greeted like it’s her biggest hit and sung note and word perfect by 50,000 people. Well, 49,999. I do my best but I struggle to keep up.

At the end of We Are Never Getting Back Together, one of her dancers adds a final flourish with a determined “póg mo thóin” to everyone’s delight.

There is more delight when it snows during All Too Well – is there anything Taylor Swift can’t do?

But before the snow – okay, it’s just confettitens of thousands of young voices including the Pope’s children scream “f**k the patriarchy” as one. l shout it too, briefly oblivious to the fact that as one of the few middle-aged white man anywhere to be seen, I’m the problem, it’s me.

The Folklore cabin comes out for Betty and a girl in front of me Facetimes a pal far away so they can both sing along with tears streaming down their faces.

My attempts to cough over Betty’s sweary bits to protect the ears of my six-year-old are futile in the face of my teens – and my wife’s – enthusiastic unbleeped singalong, so the littlest one swears with the best of them.

After Champagne Problems the crowds euphoric response appears to catch even Taylor off guard and she mouths “I love you guys so much”.

Obviously we strike up a chorus of Olé Olé Olé in response.

Taylor tells us we are brilliant for that and we believe it. Matty Healy, by contrast, responded to a similar chant at a 1975 gig not long ago by saying the Irish “are a simple people”.

Someone should write a mean song about him.

Oh, wait.

The dawn of each new era is marked by short pauses and swift costume changes. For 1989, Taylor appears wearing the Irish flag – with a shimmering green top and orange shorts.

The last time I saw any artist dress in the colours of our flag for our delight it was the Beastie Boys in another muddy field in Galway, but their boots weren’t as sparkly and had most likely not been designed by Christian Louboutin.

I’m not – in any way – part of the Swift Army and nor should I be, but even I can see that the Eras experience is exceptional, almost otherworldly. It’s a long, long way from the Cool Dad vibe I always imagined I’d be manifesting by now, but it is what it is and what it is is the best of things. And I’d be a fool to not to celebrate it.

After this opening night in Dublin it’s beyond any doubt that she’s a peerless wonder of the modern world. And while there will be folk who question that, for sure, as my six-year-old might now say, fukit.

Thanks for that Taylor.

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