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Welcome to New Jersey, we’ve been waiting for you!
Taylor Swift brought her catalog-spanning, marathon-length concert to MetLife Stadium on Friday to kick off the three-night Garden State leg of her Eras Tour.
The highly anticipated East Rutherford dates marked the midpoint of the trek, which features a whopping 52 dates and stretches on through the summer.
Swifties lucky enough to have tickets to the sold-out show descended upon the stadium — which usually houses both the New York Jets and the New York Giants — early in the afternoon. The parking lot was full of Tayl-gaters wearing themed outfits ranging from prom gowns to pink fringed cowboy hats and boots to leather catsuits and snakeskin shirts and everything in between.
Celebrities have also been turning up in record numbers, as Swift is known for her tight-knit girl squad.
As the stadium opened up to fans eager to see the headlining superstar, the opening acts took the stage.
First up was Gayle, who made a name for herself with the viral TikTok song “ABCDEFU.” What her set lacked in time, it made up for in noise and energy. The 18-year-old’s excitement was infectious as she danced around the stage with her guitar in shades of leather and orange.
Phoebe Bridgers was next to take the stage and did so in her signature blinged-out skeleton dress to the unmistakable opening riff of Disturbed’s “Down With the Sickness.”
The indie-rock songstress — who later joined Swift onstage to perform their duet, “Nothing New (From the Vault)” — used her set to bring the crowd on a roller-coaster of emotion.
Bridgers, 28, brought her signature melodic melancholia to the massive audience until she hit her peak with a crescendoing shriek to close out her last track, “I Know the End.” Fans in the know joined in on her trademark exorcism-adjacent closing scream, bringing the volume to deafening heights.
The energy of the stadium in the lead-up to Swift’s set could only be described as electric. When “Applause” by Lady Gaga started, signifying the woman of the hour would be taking the stage shortly, fans in every section grew restless and excited. Concertgoers of all ages (and eras) traded Swift-themed friendship bracelets, a newfound fan project-turned-tradition inspired by a line in one of Swift’s newer songs, “You’re on Your Own, Kid.”
A giant clock then appeared on the stage’s massive screen as Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” filled the air, earning thunderous cheers from the crowd.
As the countdown hit zero, Swift’s backup dancers appeared carrying massive, flowing fabric fans in dreamy watercolor tones and made their way down the catwalk, eventually bending over a hidden door that would reveal Swift, 33, for the opening mashup of “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince” and “Cruel Summer” from her 2019 album, “Lover.”
Fans were delighted to see Swift, who has made headlines for her many Eras Tour outfit variations, strutting around the stage in a brand new bodysuit for the “Lover” era. The never-before-seen look featured navy blue tassels that dangled around her thighs, paired with her signature thigh-high boots.
This wasn’t the only new look debuted onstage in East Rutherford; the performer also introduced a new ballgown for the “Speak Now” era as well as a glittering, deep rust-colored gown for her “Evermore” performance.
The pop princess is no stranger to the stage, and it shows in every moment of her performance. Every note is perfect, every move exactly on the mark, every section of the stadium given attention. Even the speeches Swift gives in between songs are rehearsed and retained from night to night.
In a touching moment during “Marjorie,” Swifties all over the country have been holding up their cellphone flashlights in tribute to Swift’s late grandmother. Swift takes a moment each night to comment on the “magic telepathic connection” among the crowd — when in reality it’s simply a “fan project” that’s caught on and stuck.
Still, Swift’s connection to her fans and their loyalty cannot be denied.
After a particularly long-standing ovation from the crowd during the “Evermore” section of the show, the performer hinted at a surprise, saying, “You’ll get a treat later for that!”
Swifties are no strangers to surprises, of course. In fact, the Eras Tour has a whole section dedicated to just that: surprise songs. Just before Swift delves into the “Midnights” era of her show, she treats fans to an ever-changing two-song acoustic set.
On this particular night, she strutted down the runway with all her backup dancers in tow and announced she had a very special surprise indeed: the premiere of her Ice Spice-featured music video for “Karma” ahead of its worldwide release at midnight. The entire stadium fell quiet as the video played, bringing a touch of intimacy to one of the biggest crowds MetLife Stadium has ever seen at 72,000-plus people.
In that moment, Swift did something everyone else in the stadium had surely done countless times before — sit on the floor with friends watching a Taylor Swift music video.
After the premiere, Swift treated fans to one of the most iconic surprise song combinations the tour has seen thus far.
She was joined onstage by longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff to perform “Getaway Car” off 2017’s “Reputation.”
Afterward, she sat down at her doodle-covered piano and launched into “Maroon,” one of her most fan-requested songs from her most recent release.
But the surprises didn’t stop there. Halfway through the concert’s final song, “Karma,” Swift revealed she had one last trick up her sleeve. She stopped just after the first verse to address the audience, asking whether they were “ready to make the most amount of noise” they had made all night.
She then revealed that she had yet another visitor: “We’re going to treat this like this is her hometown show. Are you ready, Jersey? Ice Spice is here!”
The rapper, 23, rose from the center of the catwalk, singing her new verse on the hit song as she strutted downstage toward Swift. The pair held hands as fireworks went off around the stadium and cannons fired confetti in 10 different colors — for her ten albums — through the air.
During the nearly four-hour set, Swift took a stroll through her musical history, pausing to take deeper dives into some eras over others.
She spent the most amount of time ruminating on 2020’s “Folklore,” which was treated to seven songs and a spoken-word poetry version of “Seven”, and 2023’s “Midnights.”
Her earlier albums, however, weren’t so lucky; her debut album, 2006’s “Taylor Swift,” doesn’t feature permanently anywhere on the extensive 45-song setlist.
Fans have theorized this notable lack could be attributed to Swift’s current copyright issues surrounding the unauthorized sale of her masters.
That would also explain why fan favorite “Speak Now” only gets one song on the setlist: “Enchanted,” which Swift performs walking down the catwalk in a selection of bridal-esque ballgowns.
The re-recording of Swift’s 2010 album was only recently announced during the tour’s stopover in Nashville.
And yet, the Eras Tour experience is still a fairy tale of any fan’s wildest dreams.
Swift has seemingly figured out how to keep decades-old albums feeling fresh while also managing to ensure that both longtime fans and newcomers have something to connect with during her set.
Anyone lucky enough to attend a show is sure to leave feeling like they had “The Best Day” with Taylor Swift.