Taylor Swift was cheered by tens of thousands of fans in Manchester as she told them it was an “honour” to play in the city after last year’s terror attack.
Swift told more than 40,000 people in Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium the city had showed that the victims would never be forgotten.
She said: “You’ve shown that you’re never going to let anyone forget about those victims.
“And you’ve shown that you have such incredible resilience to keep dancing and to keep the innocence and to keep the joy and keep the excitement.”
The US superstar said: “I just wanted to say, Manchester, it’s such an honour to be playing for you tonight.”
Swift praised the city’s passion for music and said the deadly attack a couple of miles away at Manchester Arena, at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, was an “attempt to steal the innocence, steal the joy and steal the excitement”.
Swift was speaking as she kicked off the European leg of her Reputation tour in spectacular style.
She said the people of Manchester are “amazing” as she explained to what she said was a sold-out stadium why she wanted to play her first UK stadium gig there.
She told the teenage Swifties packed on to the pitch normally graced by a different kind of adored millionaire: “This is a really special night for me and everybody on this stage.”
She said she had never played a stadium tour in the UK before.
“You’re so amazing,” she said. “That’s why I wanted to start the UK tour in Manchester.”
Swift’s Reputation Tour has packed stadiums in the United States with rave reviews.
Now she has brought her breathless performance and breathtaking stage production across the Atlantic.
Swift delivered her speech on the terror attacks after traversing the length of the stadium aboard a Tinkerbell-style gondola before performing one of her best known hits, Shake It Off, at the opposite end of the stadium to the main stage.
Before that, there were gasps from the masses of Swifties screaming on the pitch as a 60ft Cobra emerged behind their idol during Look What You Made Me Do.
Despite Swift referring more than once to the “sold-out stadium” there appeared to be some empty seats on Friday.
She is playing the Etihad again on Saturday before moving to Dublin and then Wembley Stadium later this month.
Swift told the crowd: “I really love the UK”.
She told them how she had taken some time away from the limelight before making Reputation, explaining how she spent a lot of that time in this country.
The 28-year-old made the comments as she interspersed chats to the fans between the highly produced routines.
But they all enjoyed the only moment the slickness of the show lapsed as Swift laughed-off a slip on the piano during a pared-down version of New Year’s Day, starting the song again.
There were almost as many cheers for support act Camila Cabello whose ear-worm hit Havana set the stage for Swift after the other support, Charli XCX, pitched one theme for the evening when she reminded the crowd that there were “three incredible, baddass women performing on the same stage”.
The Taylor Swift concerts are just two of a series of big events in Manchester this weekend with the Sportaid match on Sunday, the Parklife concerts in Heaton Park, and the Tyson Fury fight at the arena.
But, according to Manchester Evening News, Swift has stolen a march on the other celebrities heading for these gathering by booking out the entirety of The Lowry – the five star hotel in the city favoured by many of its A-list visitors.