A lot was going on at the moment. Taylor Swift's massive and magisterial Eras Tour touched down in the NYC area on Friday, May 26 for the first of three sold-out shows at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. With a 3.5 hour (!) runtime that marches through 10 album cycles (yes, 2006's Taylor Swift and 2010's Speak Now are underrepresented), a gigantic troupe of dancers, state-of-the-art sets, pyrotechnics and stage magic and many, many costume changes, you'd forgive Taylor for phoning it in. But no, never. There's a reason she is, by sheer numbers (record sales, social media engagement, rabid fan theory discourse, sweatshirt grosses), the biggest star of her generation. It's no mystery why she sold 2 million tickets in a single day back in November, or why tens of thousands of fans showed up at Met Life in various era-referencing costumes (sequins, snakes, ringleaders, countless "Not a Lot Going on at the Moment" T-shirts harkening back to the "22" video as well as a pandemic Instagram post) and knew every word to every song.
In a live setting, the versatile singer-songwriter proved she's so much more than a brilliant studio practitioner with laser-sharp, media-savvy instincts. On Friday, she displayed superhuman levels of not just focus and stamina (three. point. five. hours.) but generosity and showmanship. Watching her bashfully take in a deafening, three-ish-minute round of screaming that could break glass (after "Champagne Problems") was just as enthralling as seeing her dance in a sparkly leotard atop a rising-and-falling platform to the visceral anthem "Cruel Summer."
And, since this was her first NYC-area show (sorry, other cities!), Taylor, 33, did indeed deliver special surprises. According to her, though, the night's surprises were a reward for that one million decibel reception for "Champagne Problems" early on in the show. "You will get a treat later for that," she told us 82,500 fans slyly from her piano bench. And how!
Here are five major surprises from Friday's MetLife opener — including a few guest stars.
A world video premiere
In what is not a coincidence at all, Friday was also record release day (see what she did there?), as Taylor dropped, with just a few days' notice, Midnights (The 'Til Dawn Edition), an expanded, deluxe version of Midnights featuring one brand-new song, "Hits Different," and two new versions of previous tracks, "Snow on the Beach" (Feat. more Lana Del Rey), which is exactly what it sounds like (fans of both women wanted more Lana Del Rey in the earlier version) and "Karma" (Feat. Ice Spice). Concertgoers were able to buy physical copies of the new deluxe LP on-site, of course, but the real surprise (well, one of them) was an impromptu viewing party of the brand-new "Karma" video with Taylor and her new buddy Ice Spice, who Taylor called "the future," explaining that the up-and-coming rapper reached out in January about possibly collaborating. According to Taylor, she was exclusively listening only to Ice Spice's music at the time as she prepped for her tour — so a team-up in the studio and in a lushly produced video was a no-brainer.
About an hour and a half before the video went online to the world at midnight, Taylor and her dancer crew cuddled together on the stage's runway and watched the "world premiere" of the clip.
Jack Antonoff's in the house
Unlike in previous tours, which were packed with special guest stars performing with her on various stops, the Eras Tour, perhaps because of its staggering runtime, has included far fewer VIP cameos. That trend broke last night, as Taylor (right after that video premiere) welcomed her longtime collaborator and co-producer Jack Antonoff. "He's one of my best friends, we worked together for 10 years, and he's a family member at this point," Taylor told all of us in the crowd. "And he's actually from Jersey!" Jack then took to the stage for one of the night's surprise songs during the acoustic segment, "Getaway Car," from Reputation. It was great!
Bonus songs — and another cameo
Right after performing fan favorite "Getaway Car" and bidding adieu to Jack, Taylor squeezed a beautifully searing, acoustic version of "Maroon" — written in New York, she added — off of Midnights. Earlier in the evening, she invited one of her opening acts, the incomparable Phoebe Bridgers, back to center stage to sing their duet "Nothing New" from Red (Taylor's Version). The twosome have performed the track together on tour a few times already, and Taylor has called the "Garden Song" singer one of her favorite artists. Taylor's got great taste, and if you haven't listened to Phoebe's album Punisher or sampled her work with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker in their supergroup Boygenius, do it now.
Other celebs were fan-girling and boying in the audience
They didn't take to the stage like Jack, but other boldfaced names were present for Friday's celebratory show. Spotted on the floor in VIP tents were Camilla Cabello (an opening act during Taylor's Reputation Tour back in 2018) and on-again beau Shawn Mendes, Broadway wunderkind Lin-Manuel Miranda, West Side Story's Rachel Zegler, and one-time "Bad Blood" video pal Cara DeLeveigne. It would have been nice for Camilla and Shawn to pop up for a song, but that's just us feeling greedy.
Another surprise guest for the final song
We didn't just get Ice Spice via video premiere! The rapper, 23, appeared beside Taylor to perform her just-released verses in the very last song of the night, "Karma" Taylor paid tribute to Ice via Instagram last night, too, with a carousel of three pics with her new buddy. "Karma is that girl like [heart emojis]." An absolutely sensational, glittery bow to wrap up an unforgettable evening.
Read more HELLO! US stories here
Keep up with the latest celebrity stories Sign up to our HELLO! Mail newsletter and get them delivered straight to your inbox.