Taylor Swift Sydney Eras concert: superstar wows 81,000 crowd after huge storm delays the start

<span>Taylor Swift performs a song on stage in Sydney with Sabrina Carpenter, whose opening show was cancelled because of a storm. </span><span>Photograph: Don Arnold/TAS24/[SOURCE] for TAS Rights Management</span>
Taylor Swift performs a song on stage in Sydney with Sabrina Carpenter, whose opening show was cancelled because of a storm. Photograph: Don Arnold/TAS24/[SOURCE] for TAS Rights Management

Taylor Swift fans were briefly evacuated from the floor and lower bowl of Accor Stadium in Sydney after a huge storm with nearby lightning strikes hit the area less than an hour before the show was to begin on Friday evening.

Accor Stadium posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, the start time had been delayed, and asked fans in the venue to stay undercover until “further notice”.

The delay meant support act Sabrina Carpenter did not perform her opening act but around 7.45pm Swift took the stage to a huge roar from the 81,000 crowd.

“Sydney you are making me feel absolutely phenomenal,” she told the crowd before launching into her opening song, The Man.

An array of hits such as 22, I Knew You Were Trouble and Love Story duly followed to keep the audience, which included celebrities such as Toni Collette, Baz and Lillian Luhrmann, and Katy Perry, in raptures.

While performing 22, she called a young girl from Perth named Scarlett, who is suffering from brain cancer, forward to the stage and gave her the hat she was wearing.

Later, Carpenter joined Swift on stage for a mashup of White Horse and Coney Island.

Earlier the stadium said Swift’s first Sydney Eras concert would go ahead “rain or shine”, unless the expected severe weather threatened people’s safety.

The prediction of severe storms meant Airservices Australia limited the number of Sydney arrivals and departures during the day, leading to cancellations and delays.

Qantas put on an Airbus A380 from Melbourne to Sydney – carrying about three Boeing 737 flights’ worth of passengers – to get more people to Sydney on time.

That 5pm flight replaced three 4pm flights, so Qantas said it was unlikely passengers were travelling to Sydney for the 6.20pm concert, but that it would help deal with Friday’s high demand.

Qantas said in a statement that all customers affected had been contacted and customers travelling from other airports might be able to switch to an earlier flight.

Airservices Australia said it was “delighted to be assisting our key customer Qantas in ensuring Swifties can get to Sydney before the inclement weather impacts the airport”.

“Airborne and ground delays are expected. It is recommended that passengers reach out to their airlines,” the spokesperson said.

Sydney Airport arrivals information showed Jetstar flights from the Gold Coast and Melbourne on Friday afternoon had been cancelled, alongside Virgin flights from the Gold Coast and Canberra, and Qantas flights from the Gold Coast and Port Macquarie.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicted “possibly severe” thunderstorms for Friday afternoon and evening, and emergency services warned people to be careful while travelling.

Swift’s hotly anticipated gig was scheduled to kick off at 6.20pm, with gates opening at 4.30pm.

The forecast was for a hot day with a maximum of 36C at nearby Parramatta. “A thunderstorm likely during this afternoon and evening, possibly severe with damaging winds, heavy falls and large hail,” the BoM forecast said.

Qantas said all its passengers affected by cancellations had been booked on to alternative flights.

Jetstar said in a statement it had added two extra flights from Melbourne and Brisbane on Saturday morning, and was offering free moves to earlier flights or alternative flights from other airports.

“We’re doing everything we can to get affected customers on their way as soon as possible,” Jetstar said.

Virgin said they were trying to let customers know in advance of any rescheduling, but that guests should check their flight status.

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No umbrellas are allowed in the stadium but jackets or rain ponchos are fine.

BoM meteorologist Helen Reid said the storms were likely to hit just as crowds were settling in for the show.

“For the crowds heading to Olympic Park, the afternoon will still be hot after temperatures get to around 36C in the early afternoon,” she said.

“Thunderstorm development during the afternoon will become more widespread with timing at Olympic Park likely to coincide with crowds settling into the concert.

“A cool southerly change is expected as the sun is disappearing over the horizon, with some more rain to come with it. Today’s thunderstorm activity will ease overnight.”

The New South Wales State Emergency Service has urged people to make “safe and sensible decisions”.

“We may see some very poor weather this afternoon and evening across parts of Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Illawarra, parts of the South Coast and eastern parts of the Southern Tablelands,” chief superintendent Dallas Burnes said.

“The weather expected may make things like travelling hazardous, with high end heavy rain and flash flooding a possibility.

“We hope everyone has a very enjoyable time at these events but ask people to plan ahead so they can get there safely.”

The SES was preparing for an increase in incidents, he said, and advised people to download the Hazards Near Me app to get warnings about severe weather, floods, tsunami and fires.

Swift has form singing in the rain – in November, she performed during a deluge in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.

At that show she paid tribute to a fan who had died at her concert two days earlier, during an intense heatwave. The next night’s concert was cancelled because of the heat, and the night after that the rains came.

Reid said the weather would be better for Swift’s next three shows, which will be attended by a total of about 300,000 fans.

“Conditions for the concerts over the weekend and Monday will be more stable with cooler temperatures,” she said.

“Saturday itself will start with some rain but this will clear in time for the concert. Sunday and Monday will be mostly sunny with little chance of rain.”

Narelle Yeo, who teaches voice and stagecraft at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, said Swift was a true professional with good training who could cope with difficult conditions. Any physical danger aside, the weather could still affect parts of her performance, she said.

“The only issue, really, is that storms change barometric pressure and that makes physiological changes,” she said. “You can still sing but the condition in which you sing slightly changes.

“When you climb a mountain, your voice does go up in pitch so changes in atmospheric pressure do impact your voice, but not so much you’d notice.

“Her voice sounds very healthy, so there’s no risk to her voice – I’m not at all concerned for her to do a gig under hard conditions.”