Taylor Swift belatedly opens Eras stint in Sydney after lightning, evacuation delay

Taylor Swift poses in a white gown and black gloves at the Grammy Awards
Taylor Swift belatedly took the stage during the first of four shows in Sydney after nearby lightning and evacuations delayed the show and canceled Sabrina Carpenter's opening set. (Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)
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Taylor Swift's highly anticipated opening concert in Sydney was delayed Friday amid weather safety concerns, but the singer shook it off when she ultimately took the stage.

The "Anti-Hero" singer's show at Accor Stadium was evacuated following a series of lightning strikes. Inclement weather — which has repeatedly and once fatally dogged Swift's months-long, blockbuster tour — forced concertgoers on the lower level of the open-air stadium to seek shelter during the storm, which brought heavy rain, wind and lightning to the region.

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"The floor and lower bowl are currently being evacuated due to lightning strikes nearby the stadium at today's show of Taylor Swift's 'The Eras Tour' in Sydney, Australia. Please stay safe and seek shelter for now #SydneyTSTheErasTour," said a tweet on the official Eras Tour X account, providing some footage of the evacuation.

A notice posted about 10 minutes later announced that the concert would be delayed due to bad weather. It also urged fans to "stay undercover until further notice and follow venue screens and staff instructions."

"Stay safe and remember to be kind to those around you," the update said.

About an hour later, additional posts confirmed that stadium staff were resetting the floor and preparing seats for the show, eventually giving the all-clear for fans to return to their seats. Fittingly, the Eras tour account also posted a photo of a rainbow that appeared above the stadium. Another announcement said that Sabrina Carpenter would no longer be opening the show "due to the weather delay," then teased Carpenter's "surprise songs" during Swift's set. (They performed a medley of "White Horse" and "Coney Island" during the show.)

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The 14-time Grammy Award winner ultimately took the stage just before 8 p.m. local time and acknowledged the rough weather, as well as the resilience of her Sydney fans.

"You're really making me feel like tonight I get to play a sold-out show for 81,000 people in Sydney!" she said, according to the Eras Tour tweets, adding, "We have a little bit of a weather situation, a little bit of rain but I have never known an Aussie crowd that let anything get in the way!"

Swift also gave a shout-out to the crowd when they inserted the "Sydney chant" into the "don't say I didn't warn you" lyrics of "Blank Space."

The singer performed "How You Get the Girl" from "1989" as the first surprise song of the night and brought out Carpenter for the second. She also went live on Instagram during the show to reveal a bonus track from her upcoming album, "The Tortured Poets Department," which she'll release April 19.

Read more: Taylor Swift unveils new album 'The Tortured Poets Department' at 2024 Grammys

The delayed show wasn't without its celebrity attendees. Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who joined his girlfriend Down Under earlier this week, was in the audience and was on the receiving end of another Swift run-in-for-the-hug after she completed the show. Swift again changed her "Karma" lyrics during the concert to "Karma is the guy on the Chiefs" as a nod to the three-time Super Bowl winner.

Fellow pop star Katy Perry, Swift's former "straight up enemy" who reportedly inspired "Bad Blood," also was in the stands and shared her faux-shocked reaction as she sang along to Swift's 2014 single.

"got to see an old friend shine tonight " Perry wrote on Instagram, sharing a carousel of photos and videos from the concert, including a selfie with Swift and a snapshot with Rita Ora.

Read more: Taylor Swift reportedly just joined the billionaire's club, thanks to her Eras tour

"It’s fair to say Sydney 🇦🇺 always delivers - Or shall we say our TayTay @taylorswift always delivers!" Ora added in her own recap of the night. "thank you for having us! Seeing my KP @katyperry made my heart 🥹 to many queens to count!

Ora and her husband, director Taika Waititi, also were in the stands. Blink-182 musician Mark Hoppus was too, and he shared a backstage photo with Swift on his Instagram account.

"You need to calm down," Hoppus wrote in his caption, also teasing Blink's concerts in Australia.

Swift is performing four back-to-back Eras tour shows in Sydney before jetting off to Singapore for six concerts in early March. After that, Eras heads to Paris on May 9 and makes the rounds through Europe until August. The billion-dollar, history-making tour then heads back to the U.S. in October before wrapping with a three-night stint in Toronto in early December.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.