Surprise Guests And More – Rolling Stone

Rain shows, insane cameos, and life-changing surprise songs

From the moment it broke Ticketmaster, the world knew Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour would become the biggest of the year. Now, it’s on track to become the biggest pop music event of the next two years thanks to multiple international legs that wrap up back in North America next fall. Swift has not only been performing to sold out crowds in each stadium, but also to more thousands of ticketless fans hovering outside of venues or watching on social media from home. 

She’s not even close to halfway through the tour, but she has already gone above and beyond her fans’ expectations thanks to multiple surprises, major announcements and special guest appearances that have made the tour’s first leg across the United States a major success. In honor of that historic run — and in chronological order — here are the best moments of Swift’s Eras Tour so far. Baby, let the games begin.

We Find Out The Show Is 3 Hours Long

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Along with the thousands of fans packed into Glendale’s State Farm Stadium for the first night of Eras Tour, there were even more watching the show from grainy Instagram and TikTok Lives. Swifties around the globe had no idea what to expect from the pop star’s new live show; she had released four albums of original music since her last tour in 2018, as well as re-recorded versions of two previous albums. Would she focus on 2022’s Midnights? Would Folklore and Evermore even work in a stadium setting? Everyone was in for a treat as the night unfolded into 3.5 hours of Swift running through sets for all but her debut album (which did get some love during the surprise song portion that night). It felt like a fever dream for fans, making the Ticketmaster debacle even more worth the anxiety than anyone could have anticipated.–B.S.

Her ‘First Bridge of the Evening’ Speech

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Every night this summer, just to seal our fate, Taylor has made a celebration out of the “Cruel Summer” bridge. As she declares, just a few minutes into the show: “We have arrived at the very first bridge of the evening! Now I would prefer that we cross it together!” A perfect invitation from a songwriter who has always made a specialty of her middle-eights. Later in the show, another highlight is when she does the “Illicit Affairs” bridge—not the rest of the song, just the “Don’t call me kid! Don’t call me baby!” chant in the middle. Who else could get away with that? We can’t wait for Taylor’s “Bridges Tour”—just four hours of her bridges.–R.S.

‘Cruel Summer’ Becomes a Top 10 Hit

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Hey, any artist can score a hit in the middle of a tour. But the trick is crashing the Top Ten with a fan-fave deep cut that’s four years old. Fans always wondered why “Cruel Summer” wasn’t a single—it sounded like the great lost hit from Lover, the would’ve-could’ve-should’ve summer jam of 2019. But a year later, the world was in Folklore Mode and “Cruel Summer” got left behind—that hit that slipped away like a bottle of wine. Until now. Just in time for Eras Tour, she finally dropped it as a single. “Cruel Summer” blew up into her 41st Top Ten hit in July, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Pop Airplay chart. A very Swiftian redemption arc for this perfect pop banger—ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?–R.S.

Taylor’s Speech Defending Her Love For ‘Evermore’

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Evermore is to Folklore as Radiohead’s Amnesiac is to Kid A; it’s the sister album that will always be pitted against its elder sibling. And there’s no Swiftie like an Evermore Swiftie. The album’s true fans will defend it to the grave, champagne problems and all. Fans were absolutely convinced Swfit didn’t like Evermore when she didn’t commemorate its one-year anniversary on social media. But Taylor is always listening, and she wasted no time debunking this rumor, addressing it on night one of the Eras tour in Glendale, Arizona. “We’re currently in the middle of the Evermore album,” she told the crowd after “Marjorie.” “Which is an album I absolutely love, despite what some of you say on TikTok.” How’s that for some closure?–A.M.

The Lengthy Ovations After ‘Champagne Problems’

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It happens every night. Taylor sits alone at the piano for “Champagne Problems,” her first solo performance of the night—and it always brings out the beast in the crowd. It’s a moment where the audience literally stops the show to scream, for minutes on end, leaving poor Taylor with no way to move on. In L.A. last week the ovation kept going for 8 minutes. (Never change, L.A.—you are the Dorothea of cities.) Since she doesn’t do a standard encore break, this is the crowd’s chance to grab the mic and go full blast—an unorthodox but totally organic moment. Like so many details of the Swiftian live experience, it’s a fan-created phenomenon that takes on a life of its own. It’s also proof that as far as the Eras Tour is concerned, sorry, but Evermore is more Era than any other Era.–R.S.

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Marcus Mumford Sings ‘Cowboy Like Me’ In Las Vegas

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Taylor knew “Cowboy Like Me” was special the minute she wrote it — who else could get away with a line like “Some tent-like thing” and make it sound magical? She knew she was sitting on a 21st century “Desperado,” beloved by everyone from Maya Hawke to Maggie Rogers. The Western lullaby was recorded at Marcus Mumford’s Scarlet Pimpernel Studios, and he even provided backing vocals. So it was only right that he join her on the Evermore track’s live debut, early into the tour in Las Vegas on March 25. “Would you sing ‘Cowboy Like Me’ with me?” she asked. Mumford, who’d already performed it more than 50 times on his own tour, happily obliged.–A.M. 

Taylor Replaces ‘Invisible String’ with ‘The 1’

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In Swiftworld, few things happen without a reason, hidden or not. So when the fate-brought-us-together ballad “Invisible String” vanished from the Eras Tour setlist, replaced by the perfectly wistful masterpiece “The 1,” from the same album, it probably should’ve raised more eyebrows in the moment. Instead, it took certain headlines about Swift’s personal life, a week later, to make full sense of the very welcome swap.–B.H.

The ‘And Take Her Home’ Note In ‘The 1’

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Nobody, absolutely nobody, was complaining that “The 1” wasn’t heartbreaking enough. But for the live version, Taylor throws in The Note, for the kill. As she sings “The 1” on the mossy roof of her Folklore Cottage of Solitude, she adds that extra spice to the line, “You meet some woman on the internet and taaake her home.” As far as we’re concerned, this note is now “The 1” canon. The original Folklore version already sounds weird without it.–R.S. 

Aaron Dessner’s Surprise Song Appearances

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When Aaron Dessner from the National came out in Tampa to bless the Eras Tour stage for the first time, Swifties in the stands and watching on live streams at home knew they were all in for a devastating set of Dessner-produced tracks. From an acoustic version of “The Great War,” to the poignant piano ballad “Mad Woman,” Dessner and Swift shined together on these stripped down versions of beloved songs. But the real kicker was “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” with Dessner jamming along on guitar and the entire Nissan Stadium screaming with Swift as she sang, “give me back my girlhood/ it was mine first!.” It was truly a moment for the history books.–M.G.

Taylor announces ‘Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)’ in Nashville

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Nashville turned purple when Swift decided to announce the release of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) during her Eras tour stop in her hometown on May 5. In typical Swiftian fashion, the singer used a play on words to reveal the album would be in July in the midst of her performance. “I think rather than me speaking about it, I thought I would show you, so if you would direct your attention,” she told an audience of screaming fans, while directing their attention to Nissan Stadium’s screens which featured the album cover and its release date. But Swift wasn’t done: She surprised fans by launching into a performance of “Sparks Fly.” And, oh, did they fly.–I.K.

Nashville Also Gets The First Rain Show of The Eras Tour

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There is arguably nothing more Swiftian than rain; it’s a signature element to her lyrics. Swift used to play “Should’ve Said No” in a makeshift downpour on stage, and her first headlining rain show at Gillette Stadium is a thing of Swiftie folklore (it apparently inspired the fan-ode “Long Live”). Everyone was eagerly refreshing their weather apps to see if they’d be the Eras Tour stop to witness Taylor come in with the rain. Nashville night 3 got especially lucky. After lightning delayed the start of the show for several hours, Swift weathered the storm along with her hometown crowd. She was so drenched she compared herself to a “river otter” — and still put on one hell of a show that didn’t end until nearly 2 a.m.–M.G.

Tour Opener Phoebe Bridgers Sings Vault Duet ‘Nothing New’

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On the first night in Nashville, Swift invited Phoebe Bridgers (“one of my favorite artists”) to perform their Red (Taylor’s Version) collaboration “Nothing New,” and emotions were running high. They were clearly boith psyched to be sharing the stage: right before the song’s prophetic bridge, Swift laughed and mouthed “oh my god” while Bridgers shook her head in disbelief at the fact she was singing with one of her idols. At that moment, more than a few concertgoers had their inner child healed. It was so powerful that Swift snuck their performance into the set during every tour stop that Boygenius opened.–M.G.

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The ‘Karma’ Video Premiere During the First New York Show

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Fans attending Swift’s three night stint at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey (which technically also counts as her New York tour dates, for surprise-song purposes) knew they were in for some unexpected highlights even before the first show kicked off. Leading up to that night, Swift announced the release of Midnights (Til Dawn), an expanded version of her 2022 album that included a remix of “Karma,” featuring buzzy new rapper Ice Spice. In the middle of the show, Swift did more than shout out the new release: she decided to debut the “Karma” video in the middle of her set. Swift and her dancers sat on the stage to watch the video, which premiered on YouTube soon after.–B.S.

Jack Antonoff Appears For A Surprise ‘Getaway Car’

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After Aaron Dessner made appearances earlier in the tour to perform with Swift during her surprise song sets, it was only a matter of time before Jack Antonoff did the same. Fittingly, it occurred on the first night of her New York shows, which were in Antonoff’s home state of New Jersey. Even better, his appearance ticked “Getaway Car” off the surprise song list, with Antonoff playing guitar on the Reputation cut and fan favorite.–B.S.

Ice Spice Appears Onstage For ‘Karma’ Remix

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A “Karma” video premiere wasn’t enough for Swift as she celebrated Midnights (Til Dawn) over the course of her weekend in New York. She added an extra dose of excitement to show closer “Karma” when she invited Ice Spice out to perform the remix with her three nights in a row. The pair were a match made in pop heaven on stage together, with the 23-year-old rapper commanding the crowd perfectly next to the headliner. It didn’t take a lot for the two stars to make “Karma” a massive success, so it came as no surprise that the song shot up the charts a week later.–B.S.

Two Lucky Audiences Get to Hear ‘Clean’

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Back in February, Gracie Abrams told Rolling Stone that her favorite 1989 track was “Clean.” Fast forward to April 1st: Taylor Swift made good on a request from Abrams to play the track after her first night opening shows on Swift’s stadium run. “I will remember this feeling in my bones for the rest of my life,” Abrams wrote on Instagram. And if “Clean” stans weren’t satisfied enough, Swift played the song again on the second night of her New Jersey stop, claiming with a smirk that she “could have played it in a higher key” as a way to avoid violating her rule about not repeating surprise songs. A worthy rare repeat for a classic 1989  track.–W.A.

The First Performance of ‘Dear John’ In 11 Years

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With the surprise songs section of the Eras Tour, fans were anxiously awaiting the night when Swift would break out “Dear John,” her scathing anthem allegedly written about her ex John Mayer. With the release of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), Swiftie anticipation hit a fever pitch. Then, on June 24 in Minneapolis, they got their wish—hearing it live for the first time in 11 years. But with the performance of the song, Swift also had a disclaimer for her fans: She reminded them to consider “kindness and gentleness” when interacting online. “I’m 33 years old. I don’t care about anything that happened to me when I was 19 except the songs I wrote,” Swift added. “So what I’m trying to tell you is that I’m not putting this album out so you should feel the need to defend me on the internet against someone you think I might have written a song about 14 billion years ago.” In short, there’s no reason to be “mean.”–I.K.

Opener Gracie Abrams Gets Invited To Sing ‘I Miss You I’m Sorry’ With Taylor

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What’s better than two surprise songs at an Eras Tour show? Three! At her July 1 date in Cincinnati, Swift not only debuted Evermore track “Ivy” and Reputation cut “Call It What You Want” for the first time in five years, but she shared the stage with Gracie Abrams and Aaron Dessner for a performance of her tour opener’s track “I Miss You, I’m Sorry.” While Abrams’ ballad is stunning on its own, Swift stole the show by alternating verses with the Good Riddance singer.–I.K.

That Taylor Lautner Cartwheel

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Even though he is one of Swift’s better exes, Lautner’s inserting himself into the Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) conversation on social media (remember #prayingforjohn?) wasn’t a perfectly smooth process. But that didn’t stop Swift from bringing him out in Kansas City for a very cool and very full circle moment punctuated by a cartwheel that would have turned a less-athletic person’s bones to dust. Lautner told The Today Show that the cartwheel wasn’t planned, making it all that more impressive. Despite the seeming spontaneity of his on-stage acrobatics, the move did have some resemblance to the flip Lautner did in the 2010 flick Valentine’s Day, in which he co-starred with Swift. A reach? Maybe, but it’s very cool to see Lautner and Swift still in touch (Swift called Lautner and his wife “close friends”). Just maybe cool it on the #prayingfor TikToks.–W.A.

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‘I Can See You’ Video Premiere In Kansas City

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During her tour stop in Kansas City on July 7 — the release date of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) — Swift surprised fans by premiering the heist-themed music video for “I Can See You,” which featured Taylor Lautner, Joey King and Presley Cash trying to steal her third album. It was one of the meta reunions for the “I Can See You” stars — King and Cash co-starred in the music video for “Mean,” while “Back to December” was allegedly about Swift’s breakup with Lautner. Of course, fans went wild when Swift sang Lautner’s praises to the Kansas City audience: “He was a very positive force in my life when I was making the ‘Speak Now’ album, and I want to say he did every single stunt that you saw in that music video. He and his wife have become some of my closest friends, and it’s very convenient because we all share the same first name.”–I.K.

‘Long Live’ Is Added To The Setlist

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The Eras Tour is as grandiose and impactful as any victory lap we’ve seen an artist put on in recent memory. The tour pulls on the nostalgia heartstrings — yes, there’s a percentage of fans who who tapped in when Folklore dropped, but there’s a great many more diehards who’ve been through middle school, high school, and college with Ms. Swift. That’s why hearing the “tell them how the crowds went wild/tell them how I hope they shine” in “Long :ive” hits so hard. Even cooler: Swift is using the koi fish guitar from the Speak Now era. It’s funny to think about Swift writing such an anthemic ode to her career…in 2010. If only she knew there were thousands of sold out shows, a handful of Grammys, and hundreds of broken records to come. “Tell ’em how the crowds went wild” — they still are.–W.A.

‘Last Kiss,’ July 8th

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When “Last Kiss” finally had its moment as a surprise song on July 8, you could hear the cries of Speak Now girlies heard round the world. Officially named “the saddest song [she’s] ever written” by Ms. Fountain Pen herself, Swift performed the somber track on her famous koi fish guitar and was so excited she forgot the lyrics and had to start over several times. Swift finally sang “that July 9th/The beat of your heart” with a small smirk because it was, in fact, July 8th that night — a sweet nod to the heart-wrenching moment in the song.–M.G. 

Haim Appears Onstage For ‘No Body, No Crime’ In Seattle

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On July 22, Swift’s murder ballad “No Body, No Crime” got its shining moment in Seattle when the singer brought out Haim to perform on their collaboration. Even better, their Evermore highlight wasn’t even one of the surprise songs of the evening: It was just a setlist swap for “Tis the Damn Season.” While it might be a coincidence—though with Swift it rarely is—they joined forces at Lumen Field exactly one year and a day after Swift shocked London fans by teaming up with the sisters for a “Gasoline”-”Love Story” mash-up.–I.K.

Taylor Gives ’22’ Hat to Kobe Bryant’s Gaughter

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Swift’s grace and generosity are now legendary. During her So-Fi Stadium show in Los Angeles on Aug. 3, the pop star gifted her Red-era bowler hat to Kobe and Vanessa Bryant’s daughter, Bianka during a performance of “22.” The sweet moment, which featured Swift hugging her and placing the hat on the six-year-old girl’s head, went viral, of course. It was one of those memories that we’ll be holding onto for a long time.–I.K.

The Dramatic Unveiling of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) On 8/9

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Long before Eras Tour began, fans were racking their Easter egg-ridden brains to figure out which of Swift’s first six albums would be the next re-record to drop. Rightfully, many had been going back-and-forth on Speak Now and 1989, and those who guessed the former were proven correct early in the tour. But Swift seemed to be dropping a suspicious number of hints at the possibility of more music, including several studio sightings on her off days. Ending the first US leg of Eras on 8/9 in Los Angeles also felt a little too on the nose. Thankfully, this time, everyone had decoded correctly. Swift unveiled 1989 (Taylor’s Version) in the most Taylor way possible, wearing blue versions of each Eras costume, a nod to the adopted color for 1989. She finally revealed the new cover and release date after singing fan-favorite bonus track “New Romantics” during the surprise-song set, a perfect end to the first leg of this lengthy, massive trek.–B.S.

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