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This is what the Taylor Swift fans could only hope for when they decided to come to tonight’s show.
“Welcome to F1 on a Saturday night,” the audibly beloved star welcomed close to 100,000 screaming fans as she strutted across the stage in a short, black, sparkly number.
During her first and only concert performance of 2016, Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix weekend in Austin, Texas, the Grammy winner tore through a number of her hits—but the cherry on top was reportedly going to be a stripped-down version of “This Is What You Came For,” the track Swift co-wrote for then-boyfriend Calvin Harristhat became a huge, song-of-the-summer hit for the Scottish DJ-producer and Rihanna.
Taylor’s backing vocals can be heard on the single, and she did a little lip-syncing during New York Fashion Week, but this would be the first time she’s publicly performed the tune start to finish. The Internet was set ablaze with anticipation earlier in the day after video of her rehearsing at a piano during a sound check made the rounds.
Swift initially agreed to recede into the background when Harris went around promoting the song when it came out in April, but once the chorus detectives got wind of Tay’s voice on the song and connected her with the co-writer listed on Wikipedia—Swift’s sometimes-alias, Nils Sjoberg—then the ruse was up.
Her rep confirmed Swift’s role in “This Is What You Came For” on July 13, prompting a Twitter treatise from Harris that started out friendly, “And she sings on a little bit of it too…Amazing lyric writer and she smashed it as usual. I wrote the music, produced the song, arranged it and cut the vocals though. And initially she wanted it kept secret, hence the pseudonym,” before descending into finger-pointing chaos.
But everything that Swift had to deal with over the summer only made the Swifties more excited about this very night, the date of which is just shy of all sorts of milestones.
For starters, the fourth anniversary of Red is today, the 10th anniversary of her self-titled debut album is Monday, the sixth anniversary of Speak Now is Tuesday, Thursday is 1989‘s second birthday and Fearless turns 8 on Nov. 11.
So in even-numbered years, fall has historically been a momentous season for Swift.
Swift’s return to the stage Saturday for the first time (as a performer) since the end of her 1989 World Tour last December had a number of people desperately hoping for, er, speculating that she’d debut at least one new song, if not drop a whole entire surprise album.
Per some very Swift-specific mathematics, armchair numerologists are predicting tomorrow, Oct. 23, 2016 (1+0+2+3+1+6=13, and she loves 13), as the release date for what would technically be a surprise album, minus everyone else talking about it beforehand.
Hey, there are still a lot of hours to go before sun sets on 10-23-16. But in the meantime, Taylor delighted the 100,000-plus people in attendance at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas tonight, showing no trace of the bad cold she Instagrammed about earlier this week (other than her endearing tissue break that had Twitter all aflutter). And if you’ve ever wondered what at least 90,000 shrieking girls sounded like…
The 26-year-old super-star was on fire from minute one, blazing through “New Romantics” and “22” in quick succession to open the show, looking not a bit rusty after a nearly 11-month break from live performing.
Swift’s set list also included “Blank Space,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “Style,” “Fifteen,” “You Belong With Me” (accompanying herself on guitar!), “Shake It Off” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Fans lined up for what looked like a mile to be let into the venue, where presumably quite a few young ladies got their first-ever glimpse of live Formula One racing.
Count Lewis Hamilton among the celebrity fans who at least planned on sticking around to catch the show, if he had the energy after a day of driving.
“I’m going to try to,” the British racing driver told the AP beforehand. “I know Taylor a little bit. She’s amazing. I’m a massive fan of hers.”
Venus Williams, Christoph Waltz and Rosa Salazar were among the VIPs spotted watching the race earlier in the day. Usher and The Roots are headlining the post-race concert at the arena tomorrow.