By Chuck Arnold and Jessica Herndon
Updated April 15, 2013 12:00 PM


I was a Taylor Swift concert virgin. But the time was finally right when her Red Tour rolled into Newark, N.J., for the first of a three-night stand at the Prudential Center. Entering the inner sanctum of Taylor fandom (I was one of the few grown men there without a kid), I was struck by all the Swift-inspired outfits. Taylor, who preferred to call them “costumes” or “ensembles,” seemingly noticed each and every one from the stage; she was just that good at connecting with her audience. She was not the best singer, nor the best dancer—and not the best guitar, piano or banjo player either. But when her top talent as a lyricist shone through on songs like the singalong highlight “Mean,” there was nobody who couldn’t relate to her.