Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour moved back inside on Friday night (June 9), playing the first of two concerts at Detroit’s Ford Field, which has been hosting Swift’s home in the Motor City since 2011.
A crowd of nearly 59,300 — including a significant number of travelers to the show — gave Swift a thunderous welcome that left her wide-eyed and grinning by the end of the second song “Cruel Summer.”
“You’re making me feel phenomenal right now,” the pop superstar told the Swifties, a cross-generational albeit mostly female throng (though a few “Proud Swiftie Dad” T-shirts were spotted in the crowd). “I’m already starting to feel, like, powerful, you know what I mean?”
Playing under a roof, of course, meant Swift and company didn’t have to deal with weather issues like they did in Nashville, although it was a pleasant late spring day in Detroit. It also limited the chance she’d swallow any flying insects, like she did in Chicago. The domed setting did, however, provide different circumstances for the Taylor-gaters outside, who could not hear the music like they could at the open-air venues. That kept the numbers down but there was still a concentration of fans on the east side of the stadium, opposite of the stage, who were able to peer through the windows and were filming the production on their cell phones.
The covering also added another dimension to Swift’s opulent light show, particularly during “Don’t Blame Me,” when the rows of floodlights that shot towards the sky made shapes on the roof. It also reflected the pyrotechnic moments in a different way, lighting up the venue even more intensely than others.
Twelve weeks in, Swift’s Eras Tour is looking and feeling dialed-in — a 44-song, three-hour and 20-minute treat for Swifties who haven’t seen her on stage in five years. That made for a smooth night for all concerned on Friday, with some moments that still stood out from the evening.
Motor City Surprise Songs
Swift, per usual, explained to the Detroit crowd her idea of playing surprise solo songs each night — and not repeating them throughout the tour. A challenging task, she noted, but was clearly proud that she’s been able to keep it up so far. On June 9, she welcomed two more new arrivals to the Eras Tour roster, starting with “Haunted” from 2010’s Speak Now, played on acoustic guitar and preceded with a plug for Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), arriving on July 7. She followed on piano with “I Almost Do” from Red, its first time in the set since 2013.
Before performing “Lover” during the show’s opening segment, Swift reminded fans that the first time she sang in Ford Field was during the fall of 2006, as a 16-year-old singing the national anthem before a Detroit Lions game in conjunction with the release of her self-titled debut album. “It was, like, the biggest place I’ve ever seen in my life,” Swift recalled, “and now we’re back with the Eras Tour.” It was actually her fifth appearance at the stadium, having played there on the 2018 Reputation Stadium Tour, the 1989 World Tour in 2015, The Red Tour in 2013 and the Speak Now World Tour in 2011.
A number of Detroit Lions were in the crowd on June 9, or planning to come to Swift’s second show on Saturday, including head coach Dan Campbell and quarterback Jared Goff. But the most visible celebrity in attendance on night one was Public Enemy’s Flava Flav, who was also seen at the Detroit Grand Prix the previous weekend. Flav was conspicuous in one of the main floor VIP boxes, pressing the flesh with fans who spotted him throughout the evening.
As she introduced Evermore’s “Champagne Problems” while seated at a “moss-covered piano,” Swift apologetically made “a very annoying request that somebody maybe bring me a tissue.” She explained that “I’m kind of at the end of a cold. I’m just getting to a point where it’s gonna get messy for me on the piano.” A stagehand brought one up in short order, and Swift ducked down in order to blow her nose. “OK,” she said, “that may not be the last time that happens tonight. Just a warning.” It didn’t affect her performance of the song, however, which earned one of the night’s longest and loudest ovations.
It’s Janet… Miss Jackson
Loving the Love
Before rendering the nearly 10-minute “All Too Well” from Red (Taylor’s Version), Swift spoke to the crowd about her mission to re-record her first six albums — and her appreciation for the Swifties’ support for the project.
“Ever since I was a teenager it’s just been really important for me to on my own music one day,” she explained. The Taylor’s Versions, she added, “is sort of the definition of a passion project, right? A passion project is something an artist wants to do for personal reasons, and they would it regardless of whether it was a big, massive failure or it went well … and because it was so personal to me I didn’t go in with any demands or expectations that you guys had to like my versions more or you had to support my versions more, right? But the coolest thing happened; I put out my very first re-record, which was Fearless, my version. You guys, like, rolled up your sleeves and dove in head first and you were like, ‘Nope, these are the versions we support. We want you to own your work.’ Honestly, I’m gonna be thanking you for that for the rest of my life because it just, it was so generous of you to care about the same thing that I care about.”
Time Out for Cuteness
At the end of “22” during the Red section, Swift took a moment with a young girl at the far end of the stage. Swift gave the smiling Swiftie a wink and the hat off her head before she skipped away to charge into “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
Girl In Distress
While Swift didn’t experience any obvious technical issues like she did the previous weekend in Chicago, when her microphone malfunctioned during the third show there, it was opening act Girl In Red’s turn for a snafu. Like Swift, the Norwegian rocker (aka Marie Ringheim) pounded on the mic with her palm, then told the crowd, “I’m not sure if you saw the Tik-Tok where Taylor lost her vocal mic. That’s exactly what I was going for.” After a quick mic hand-off she was able to finish the rest of her 35-minute set without incident.