It was Halloween 2015 that One Direction played their last ever full-length, official show. Teenage girls all over the world shed enough tears to fill the seven seas, and the five men went their separate ways to pursue solo careers.
You could tell from the way Harry Styles dressed, the tattoos that adorned his body, the length of his hair and his mild obsession with Ronnie Wood that he would likely work on music that had at least a little bit of rock influence in it. His debut album, a self-titled effort, actually ended up offering far more in that respect that fans had actually bargained for. Gone was the faux innocence, replaced with lyrics that got down (and dirty) and enough guitar solos to last a lifetime.
Still, this change didn’t stop former One Direction fans from snapping up tickets for his first UK tour where he would play intimate (well, for him) venues that he would be unlikely to ever play again. Two nights at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London kicked off the UK proceedings and we had the opportunity to attend the latter performance.
Just as Styles was due to take to the stage, a silk screen fell across it and caused ear-splitting screams to be drawn from the excited audience. It may not have been an arena, and it may have been Styles sans his former compatriots, but it was simply evidence that you just can’t underestimate these kinds of fans no matter what the capacity. Beginning with ‘Ever Since New York’, Styles was the cause of many happy tears before he’d even sang a note.
‘Two Ghosts’ followed, another relatively softer song in comparison to what was yet to come. ‘Carolina’ is searing hot, and lyrically not the kind of thing you’d expect a mother to allow her 6-year-old daughter to listen to, but the seated area of the venue was packed out with kids. Styles showcased that he hadn’t lost his mojo, strutting across the stage and enchanting every single person in the audience.
With only one album under his belt, it was hardly surprising that Styles decided to fall back on to covers in order to beef out the set list. ‘Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart’, originally by Ariana Grande but written by Styles caused a delighted stir among the crowd, but nothing could be compared to the way they were utterly electrified by his performances of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and ‘What Makes You Beautiful’. Truly, Styles proved he’s still One Direction’s biggest fan.
A cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ seemed a little misguided since half the audience probably couldn’t tell you who the hell Stevie Nicks even is, but it became apparent that it was a rendition for Styles’ benefit more than anyone else’s.
The setlist has been identical across all the concerts so far, complete with two executions of ‘Kiwi’ (one in the main set and one in the encore), and then the encore completed with his first single ‘Sign Of The Times’. Regardless of the standard, there’s no denying that having the chance to attend one of these concerts is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
At the end of the day, Styles knows exactly what he wants and how to get it. He’s been trained in how to be a pop star since the age of 16, he’s talented and he’s probably quite aware that he’s not exactly hard to look at. He has a long and glittering career ahead of him if he plays his cards right— and obviously, he will.