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Taylor Swift: Her voice is changing

She wore a little black and a little white, but you could argue that Wednesday night Taylor Swift was Red all over.

The 23-year-old singer recently released her fourth album and it's called "Red," so titled because Swift says she sometimes thinks in colors, and red is the color of passion, anger and all kinds of fiery feelings that make for good songs. So patrons at the AmericanAirlines Arena were treated with red rhinestone-encrusted microphones, several red costumes by Swift, red guitars, athletic dancers waving red flags and some really bright lipstick that contrasted perfectly with blond hair and blue eyes.

Swift's fan base -- teen and preteen girls -- apparently got the memo pre-concert, wearing everything from red headbands to shirts to waving electric lights spelling out R-E-D (one letter per person).

They rabidly sang every song, pogo-ed in place and screamed from the moment Swift said "Hi, I'm Taylor," then soaked in the cheers for 45 seconds. (But personally, I thought the "Taylor Swift or Die" shirts were a little much.)

Red might be the color of passion, but it's also the color of power, and that 16-year-old country singer who gaped open-mouthed at all those award shows with a sense of wonder now stands with both feet planted. Swift's songs have taken on more of an empowerment tone in her past eight years. No rotten boyfriend’s going to quiet this voice.

And, oh, a word about that country singer. She's gone, leaving off her playlist such songs as "Tim McGraw," "Teardrops on My Guitar," and even "Our Song." (I guess the lyric "It's a slamming screen door" really, really conjures up images of WD-40, tractors and lightning bugs.) Also, the choice of pop singer Ed Sheeran as an opener says something about Swift’s direction, considering that her first big South Florida splash came at the KISS Chili Cook-off in 2007, sandwiched between Sugarland and Montgomery Gentry.

That gawkishness of a young fawn gaining her legs and speaking with an open vulnerability is gone too, with Swift's between-song patter now feeling just too scripted, almost by rote. Especially cloying: Calling the attendees “one of the wildest crowds of the century.”

That said, her show did not miss a visual trick, with sets being based on Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Phantom of the Opera, an homage to film noir and a circus ring, with Swift as ringmaster for the finale to her one-hour, 50-minute show, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together."

So now, that teenager is a pop queen, with life experiences of marriage and babies (and for her sake I hope no divorces) looming. She's already well into Katy Perry territory, and “Red” will certainly bring a lot of green.

And this could go on for decades. (Think Madonna.) Swift still has a lot to say and really, her career is just getting started. What she becomes is going to be darned interesting to follow.

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