Taylor Swift's Eras Tour UK: A guide to every easter egg and surprise song – The Telegraph

The pop superstar is known for her love of fan-baiting Easter eggs. As the UK leg of her tour kicks off, here’s everything to look out for
Ask any Taylor Swift fan what the secret to her colossal success is, and you might be surprised by their answer. Her emotionally vulnerable lyrics, epic live shows and 11 chart-topping studio albums all come into play, of course, but it’s her Easter eggs – the secret clues she hides in her songs – that have established her as an unprecedented force in the music industry.
Since the release of her eponymous 2006 debut album, the 34-year-old has littered her music with hidden messaging, covering everything from the lovers – or foes – who served as inspiration to future release dates, aesthetics (each Swift album has an allocated colour) or even arithmetic (her lucky number, 13, shows up throughout her music). “I love to communicate through Easter eggs,” she told Entertainment Weekly in 2019. “I think the best messages are cryptic ones”. Fans relish the opportunity to dig and decipher because it makes them feel closer to their favourite star. 
As Swift’s record-breaking Eras tour finally arrives in the UK – she kicks off the first of three sold-out shows at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium tonight – we’ve taken a look at all of the clues, tips and tricks hidden behind certain stages, lyrics or costumes that feature in the three-hour-plus show. As someone who has already seen – and been bowled over by – Eras, consider this your one-stop guide to the secrets of the biggest tour in a generation.
Released in 2019, Swift’s seventh studio album was meant to get the full bells and whistles treatment: chart-topping singles (Me!, You Need to Calm Down, Lover and The Man) and a sold-out tour (“Lover Fest” was supposed to be a worldwide phenomenon, that included a show at London’s BST Hyde Park). Lover was also intended to mark a creative rebirth for Swift, whose popularity had waned following public spats with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian (that resulted in 2017’s Reputation). 
Instead, Covid arrived, the tour was cancelled, and some of the singles flopped (although the album did feature Cruel Summer, now her biggest, most-streamed hit). The album was her first record to be entirely hers – following her legal battle with former record label Big Red Machine, that has seen her re-record much of her back catalogue – and it never got its glory days because of the pandemic, so she seems to be picking up where she left off. Some fans have even construed the choice to be aimed at former boyfriend Joe Alwyn, who she reportedly broke up with in March 2023 (the same month the Eras tour kicked off in the US), with Swift the all-American golden girl and he, the brooding British actor, the prince who wound up breaking her heart.
For much of the Lover section, Swift performs on stage in front of a huge glass house with rooms nodding at previous music videos or Eras. As the titular track ends and she prepares to move into the Fearless era, the house bursts into fake flames and looks like it is burning down on stage. Could it symbolise the breakdown of her relationship with Alwyn, an end to her romantic side, or a potential hiatus post-Eras tour?
Nostalgia forms the heart of the Eras tour. Over two decades, Swift has released 11 studio albums packed with hits – from Love Story to We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – and made billions of dollars from her music. The tour itself is a celebration of this (as Swift announces at the beginning: “We are about to go on a little adventure together”), as well as her old and new fans. The second part of the show is dedicated to 2008’s country gem Fearless – which won her first Grammy for Album of the Year – and features multiple nods to her younger years and earlier performances.
If you’re lucky enough to have tickets to the Eras tour, learning 11 albums worth of songs – plus the Vault tracks from her “Taylor’s Version” rerecords – might seem like an impossible task. Unluckily, it’s not just Swift’s 274 songs (46 of which make up the setlist) that you need to know, because the crowd adds special lines to multiple songs. During Delicate, from the album Reputation, fans yell the chant “One, two, three, let’s go b—h!” after she sings “We can’t make any promises, now can we, babe?” Chart-topping revenge anthem Bad Blood, meanwhile, taken from 2014’s 1989, sees fans screech the end of the line “You forgive / You forget / But you never let it go”. Swift’s knowing winks during the songs indicate she knows exactly what the crowd is gearing up for.
Each of Swift’s albums is colour-coded (gold for Fearless, purple for Speak Now, black for Reputation, etc). Those signifiers form the heart of many fans’ chosen outfits for the tour, but also Swift’s own style choices on stage. When she announced 1989 (Taylor’s Version) in Los Angeles on August 9, she swapped her usual outfits for blue variants (1989’s colour) throughout the show. The show’s newest Era, dedicated to her 11th album The Tortured Poets Department, sees her wear a toned-down spin on a circus ringmaster outfit for I Can Do It With a Broken Heart (a knowing nod to her 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards outfit) – a song about powering through heartbreak to dazzle fans and critics – while the logo on the t-shirt she wears during 22 (from Red) changes depending on the show.
One particular outfit to keep an eye on is the black and red, snake-emblazoned sequin catsuit she wears during the Reputation era – because it’s the only outfit that hasn’t changed since the beginning of the tour. 
ICDIWABH, mentioned above, is a defiant, gloriously poppy middle finger-up to anyone who thought Swift would buckle under the pressure of heartbreak and fame. “They said, ‘Babe, you gotta fake it ‘til you make it’ and I did,” she sings. “Lights, camera, b–tch smile, even when you wanna die”. The staging itself involves a motionless Swift, lying on the ground after performing The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived, being picked up by two grinning circus masters, who strip her dress and replace it with the ringmaster outfit. After flopping and falling around like a ragdoll, Swift suddenly jerks to life and bursts into song – a true professional, at whatever personal cost.
In the Reputation section, meanwhile, during Look What You Made Me Do, Swift performs in front of a collection of glass boxes containing dancers dressed in similar costumes to ones worn throughout her career. The song itself, which was originally aimed at West and Kardashian, is Swift’s way of standing up for herself in front of an industry who expected her to be the meek, good-girl country star, instead of a powerful woman. Taken together, the imagery of both songs (ICDIWABH and LWYMMD) supports this – Swift seeing herself as someone who hasn’t been allowed to grow up, whose entire adolescence (and now, adulthood) was catered to pleasing the public.
Taken from her fourth studio album, 2012’s Red, 22 marked a musical switch for Swift from country to pure pop. During her performance of the song at the Eras tour, she storms down the long stage with her crew of backing dancers to reach one lucky fan at the other end, who is handed the black (personally signed) trilby she wears during the performance (and wore in the original video). Fans looking to secure the hat would be best to direct their attention to the Taylor Nation social media accounts – allegedly run by a combination of 13 Management, her mother Andrea and father Scott – who personally choose the recipient. One such lucky fan was the late basketball player’s Kobe Bryant’s young daughter, Bianka, who was handed the hat (and embraced) by Swift in Los Angeles.
Upon entry to the Eras tour, you will be handed a light up wristband that bursts to life throughout the set, making seas of various colours from the tens of thousands of hands in whichever stadium she’s performing in. But as we know, colours always mean something, so keep an eye out for it flashing a certain hue before the beloved acoustic section of the set, which involves Swift singing two (or a medley) of secret songs taken from any of her previous albums. When I saw her in Stockholm recently, the wristband flashed blue directly before she started singing the surprise songs, and my immediate thought that it would be from 1989 proved correct when she burst into Say Don’t Go.
This makes the surprise song (or acoustic) section of the show easily the most anticipated by fans. Every night is different – although Swift has abandoned her rule from the US leg that secret songs can only be played once, unless a mistake was made – with Swift having 11 albums of material to choose from. Or should we say 11 albums plus unreleased music, since she broke the internet on her second night in Edinburgh recently when she decided to perform Crazier, a song she performed in 2009’s Hannah Montana: The Movie but never included on a studio album. All signs point to the track being included on the imminent Taylor’s Version of her debut album. 
🚨| TAYLOR SWIFT PERFORMING "Crazier" FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER! #EdinburghTStheErasTour pic.twitter.com/BOVCP1tqzP
Swift has swapped performing two full secret songs for “mashups” including, usually, two or three tracks. The first night of the UK tour (in Edinburgh) saw her perform Would’ve, Could’ve Should’ve mixed with I Know Places, and ‘Tis the Damn Season blended with Daylight; the second included The Bolter/Getaway Car and All of the Girls You’ve Loved Before/Crazier; and the third featured It’s Nice to Have a Friend/Dorothea and Haunted/Exile. The Swiftie rumour mill has gone into overdrive ahead of her forthcoming three night-run at Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium, because Thursday’s (first) gig will be the 100th show – and takes place on the 13th (Swift’s lucky number) of June. If I had to predict what will happen on the night: the bracelets will flash black and Swift will announce the Taylor’s Version of Reputation, before performing secret songs from that album: Call It What You Want and New Year’s Day being particular fan favourites.
Between the pop-tastic anthems of Red and 1989, Swift brings down the tempo for the Folklore section (twinned with Evermore on the European leg). The album, which she wrote and released during the pandemic, was a critical darling; co-written with and produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner, it marked a switch from pop to a more indie, mature sound. During the set, she performs songs from Folklore and Evermore from atop a grassy woodland cabin (inspired by her 2021 Grammy performance) that is also home to the moss-covered piano where she sits and performs Champagne Problems.
When Swift began the Eras tour, she was newly single and heartbroken, tearing up on stage while performing songs she had written in honour of former beau Joe Alwyn. Since then, she’s released The Tortured Poets Department, another break-up album widely interpreted to be about Matty Healy, the 1975 frontman who she dated afterwards. But her current boyfriend, the NFL star Travis Kelce, has no reason to fear, because he gets his love story during So High School. Swift only sings part of the song, which is about her falling head over heels for this teenage-kind of love (and includes the line “You know how to ball / I know Aristotle”), but the accompanying dance is the clearest nod to Kelce. She and her backing dancers sit atop makeshift bleachers and “swag surf” – a waving motion typically used at US sporting events, that she was seen doing during a Kansas City Chiefs game earlier this year.
It’s easy to attribute the unprecedented success of the Eras tour to the rise of TikTok. The day after the tour began in Arizona in March 2023, I had seen it in its entirety – from my bedroom in London – thanks to people live-streaming from the concert, or uploading multiple videos. Since then, of course, there has been the blockbuster concert film, but the video-sharing platform offered the first opportunity for international fans (or those who couldn’t afford tickets) to see the show. 
TikTok even provided Swift with a free choreographer. New Jersey-based creator Mikael Arellano went viral in 2022 with his dance to Bejeweled, the ninth track from Midnights, where he shimmies and shakes his hands and body to the chorus. It racked up billions of views and sure enough, when the Eras tour opened, Swift and her dancers did the same dance. As a way of saying thank you, Arellano was even called up to accept the much-fêted 22 hat in May 2023.
Whether you’re a bona fide Swiftie or the parent or guardian of one, I guarantee you will have heard of friendship bracelets. Inspired by a lyric from Midnights’ You’re On Your Own, Kid (“So make the friendship bracelets / Take the moment and taste it”), Swift’s fans wear armfuls of homemade, largely plastic bracelets featuring beads that spell out song names or inside jokes. Then, once at the show, the fans “trade” bracelets with each other to make new friends. The internet is full of tutorials on how to make them, but if your show is drawing closer and you’re yet to make any, Amazon Prime is your best bet.
I don’t pretend to understand Swift’s justification for including certain songs on the setlist over other, fan favourites – Long Live, a beautiful ode to her band and fans, has been removed from the Speak Now section for the European leg, while the cheesy You Need To Calm Down lives to see another day. But the most striking omission is an entire album – namely, her 2006 self-titled debut album, which doesn’t feature on the setlist at all. She performs tracks as secret songs, occasionally, but the lack of an actual section suggests that she either no longer cares for country-pop teenage musings on broken hearts, or is waiting to release her “Taylor’s Version” of the album. 
With only two “Taylor’s Versions” left to go – Reputation and Taylor Swift – it seems probable that she’ll announce the latter last, at the close of the Eras tour, to mark the crowning achievement of her career with a full discography that belongs to her. Fingers crossed, because new, younger fans deserve to cry along to Teardrops On My Guitar live.

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