Voices: The tragic reason my daughter doesn’t remember seeing Taylor Swift perform live – and why you could be next

My daughter was so overwhelmed she slept through the whole Taylor Swift concert   (Invision)
My daughter was so overwhelmed she slept through the whole Taylor Swift concert (Invision)

Can you imagine saving up your money for weeks (or months), booking an expensive hotel, travelling to another city (or even country), all to see your idol perform live… only to forget the entire experience?

That’s the reality for some Taylor Swift fans, who have taken to social media to report suffering from “post-concert amnesia” after attending the singer’s Eras tour. Unlucky Swifties have suggested that the heightened excitement of seeing the “Blank Space” singer live and in person has somehow caused them to suffer amnesia-like symptoms, leaving them little or no memory of the experience.

If that sounds made up to you, I can assure you it isn’t – it happened to my six-year-old daughter Liberty.

In her case, she was so overwhelmed by the build-up, adrenaline, excitement, swapping friendship bracelets, and dressing up, that she got narcolepsy – a classic response to being overwhelmed. That meant she was out like a light for most of the show, and doesn’t have much recollection of it – a tragic response for a child who has waited months for the dream ticket.

The problems started straight away. She saw the 62,000 people packed into Anfield Football Stadium in Liverpool and looked utterly shellshocked. She went pale. I shuffled her to her seat and gave her a big hug. Even I was taken aback by the sea of people – we’d never seen anything like it.

She’d already asked me weeks earlier if Taylor Swift, “the actual person” would really be there – or would she just appear on a TV screen? Nothing could prepare her for the reality.

We were five seats from the front with her sister Lola, eight. As the show opened with a medley, “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince”, before going into her favourite song, “Cruel Summer”, I could not believe it when she just fell asleep like a ragdoll in her red plastic seat.

I was a bit worried – was she unwell? Hungry? She’d just had a bowl of macaroni cheese in a Liverpool burger bar. I gave her some water. How could a child who had been dreaming of this moment for months just conk out?

I tried to stand Liberty up later for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, naturally desperate that my child didn’t miss it. “Look at Taylor, Liberty,” I said, trying to rouse her. “She’s wearing that hat you like.”

But she just flopped down after mouthing the words for a few minutes. Even when Taylor Swift sang “Look What You Made Me Do”, another of Liberty’s favourites, she was swaying like a leaf in the wind. I nudged her, and her eyes started closing like she was drugged. She nodded off in a most bizarre way. I hadn’t seen her like this before. It wasn’t even that late.

I mean, I can understand Liberty falling asleep after 9pm – 30 minutes after her normal bedtime. Admittedly, it was a little late by the time “Shake It Off” – Swift’s 28th song – was performed. But flat out asleep at 8pm during a Taylor Swift concert?

She even mumbled to me: “Mum, I think I want to go home.” Go home? Was she delirious? I really can’t explain it.

Experts have weighed in on the phenomenon, suggesting it’s akin to a post-traumatic stress response, perhaps due to sensory overload – but we still don’t understand the specifics. Maybe it’s all down to familiarity – Swifties know the songs by heart, and so can’t form new memories when they hear them performed live. Maybe it’s the same “deindividuation” that people in angry mobs experience – a complete loss of self that comes about when in a massive crowd of people are all feeling the same way.

Eventually I woke Liberty out of her deep slumber and took her for a little walk backstage in the stadium. A man – possibly a member of the touring crew who was eating a hamburger on his own – rushed over to give her a guitar pick which Liberty clasped to her heart, thinking Taylor Swift had personally asked him to give it to her.

She was desperate to show Lola and her friend Poppy the gift, but as we walked back into the euphoric atmosphere, Liberty just switched off and fell asleep again on my lap. At one point, she even fell through the back of the seat onto a fellow Swiftie.

Everybody around her saw her struggle to stay awake. She was showered with bracelets by Swift fans with “Lover” and “Evermore” spelt out in coloured beads – which promptly dropped right out of her tightly clenched fist every time she drifted off. Not even the light up concert bracelet we’d all been given – or holding my phone with the torch on to wave in the air like everybody else – could keep her upright for longer than a few seconds. Eventually I gave up trying.

The really annoying thing is that she never falls asleep this quickly on a weeknight, when she has school the next day. Lately I’ve been finding her making Taylor Swift friendship bracelets under the covers late into the night, or posing in the mirror wearing a pink cowboy hat and singing “Delicate” at bedtime. Maybe next time I catch her I should try streaming the Eras concert film on Disney Plus – that should do the trick.