Friday, July 24, 2015

Concert Review: On The Road Again Tour

The time has finally come where I get to see these four boys all the way from England (and one from Ireland). It may not have been what expected, but that is certainly a good thing. Consider it astounding in a different way. This is the One Direction experience.

A sign my friends made me years ago... It's still relevant!

July 17, 2015

For some reason, I had no desire to see the band the first time they came to town. When I heard the news that they were coming again, I knew I had to see them this time. I tagged along with my cousin Shellby and her friend Laura, who also haven't seen One Direction until now.

To start things off (this might sound a bit of a downer), I did not expect to hear the tragic news that Zayn would be leaving the bad. And since we paid so much for the tickets, I wanted all five members on that stage. Okay, enough whining, let's look into 0.8 Direction (Laura's joke, not mine).

The venue was massive, something I didn't take into account when purchasing tickets. Our seats were pretty decent, but I think the floor would have been better. This is what the place looked like:

A lot of people

They even opened the stadium that night, which made the atmosphere bigger than it seemed. There were the usuals that you would find at a One Direction concert: little girls, teenage girls, parents chaperoning the little girls, and what came to my surprise, a handful of couples and quite a few boys (either with their girlfriends, but nonetheless, still impressive). Wasn't totally filled, but it was a solid crowd considering they had to put their tickets on discount.

I only heard about the opening act that day, which was Icona Pop. They are a Dance-Pop duo from Sweden, and they were rather energetic. Knowing about three songs from them, I wish that I learned more about their tracks, because they are a fun-sized entertainment pack. Here they are:

Look at them, waving at the crowd

Their quirky dance moves pleased me very much

Aino (black hair) and Caroline are two personalities that I can't get enough of, they are very likeable and their style of music is easy to get into the groove. Some songs surprised me, such as "Girlfriend," a song that Shellby knew about, and "On The Road Again," which I thought they were screaming at first to amp up the audience... Now that song is stuck in my head. These two could have kept going, and I wouldn't mind one bit:

How they wear long sleeves, I don't know

Harmonies were really good... so my cousin said to me

Not only did they have an excellent set list, they interacted with the crowd quite a few times. The spotted two bananas in the audience, while I looked at the various flags being waved around in the air:

Truly a remarkable time

Loud voices for some loud songs

Flag barers of their icon

Definitely a crowd pleaser

After hearing their new material in the show, I would be interested attending an Icona Pop show, I think their show would be more, radical, compared to being simply an opening act.

Waiting for the show to begin, there were a number of standouts while waiting, such as: no lineups for the men's washroom, the endless wave crowd, noticing how tired we were waiting, and the music videos that came on the screen. What I enjoyed were the cameramen who had to wait in the tower, especially the one at the bottom, who got the audience amped up with his dancing and encouragement:

This seems like a fun job

Like I said earlier, there were music videos of other bands and commercials, which included their promotion for the new fragrance (that was hilarious), some headphones, and this little gem:

Qoola commercial!

What I found most significant about this commercial was the fact that my singing teacher, Warren, is the artist in the video. He is the one pictured above, but I don't know why he covered his hair with that hat (free that afro). But it was fascinating, I do wonder if that frozen yogurt truck is real and if so, where can I find it?

But enough of the ads, let's get onto the concert. It seemed like a long time before the Directioners would appear on stage, and a lot of people were excited to hear their voices, even for a safety precaution notice:

How helpful

About to be restless, the lights went out, the crowd was roaring loud, and then came the introduction (finally):

Inner goof-ball coming out

Nothing too fancy, the opening was rather simple. They walked onto the stage, sang the first song, which I found to be a good choice. The second song however, was when the audience was losing their minds:

Steal My Girl

I don't know what it was, maybe I was tired, but my hand kept shaking while recording the boys. They were all over the place, which was a good thing for them to interact with the crowd, but a bad thing for filming. Another thing that I didn't expect were their outfits: they didn't seem to have a resemblance to their older images. Not sure what I was expecting, but nothing so simple like a t-shirt and some slacks (I think Liam had his phone in his pocket the whole time). Other than that, they spent some time on the centre stage:

From left: Harry, Niall, Liam, and Louis

They kept going from one song to the next

I felt awkward at times, because although the set in the beginning had a nice blend from one to another, my body didn't know what to do. Some songs had strong Rock elements, while others were very Bubblegum Pop - it was charming, but something felt off. But when I knew the songs, oh it was on.

Every now and then, they would shout out to the audience, say how much they appreciate us spending the night with them and every typical line you would hear that mentions something about gratitude. Now, back to the show:

Lights were very powerful, audience can scream and still manage to take a photo of their presence

Liam on the big screen, very casual

The ensemble, looking at every audience member

While performing "Stockholm Syndrome" (one of my favourite tracks off their latest album), a random explosion came out of nowhere, which had the same colours of my high school. It was the slow-down point of the concert, but only to be revived by this little ditty of breaking from your shell:

Purple & yellow streamers, galore

Ready To Run

Niall was the only one who played guitar during the show, not the whole time, but at times when he was able to just stand there and be, well, Niall:

Giving his all in that microphone

Such passion in his eyes

If I had to pick one member as my favourite, I think it would have to be Louis. There is something about him that catches my attention, perhaps it's his high vocal range, but I haven't paid much attention to his tattoos, especially the one with the stag and heart tattoo on his right arm (that's something I'd like to know the story). So, let's get onto the Louis photos:

Singing his soul out

Isn't he something?

This part is when Niall and Louis had a chance to talk to the audience while Harry and Liam were backstage, freshening up before they sang once more. Mostly, it was an introduction to Niall, who is the only member from Ireland, as he kept tugging the strings from his guitar:

Niall and Louis

Such good mates

Eventually, Niall took off his guitar and joined the boys to sing the songs like good old times. From the oldies to the newer singles, it was a singalong marathon:

Night Changes

I will admit that when "What Makes You Beautiful" came on, it felt a bit underwhelming. Maybe I'm getting old for One Direction? Or probably because I hyped myself too much by looking into their set list? Regardless of the situation, I wasn't really getting into it, even though the concert was past halfway... That made me sad.

But on another note, the highlights were when the boys talked to the crowd and read the fans' posters, one of them being a cutout cardboard of Zayn... Not to mention, the poster talking about Niall's tattoos (it was quite a burn, but not on Niall). Let's look at their interactions:

Look at gorgeous Harry, with his overflowing hair

Not sure where they got this, but the fans knew about a poster?

It was really cool when seeing everyone (except for the three of us) pull out their posters, as a sea of white and a section of red popped out of the audience. It was spectacular, and I wish I knew about it prior to the show.

The rare moment when they were together were excellent, because that means you could finally get a decent photo of them:

Well, almost

Ah, much better

Not really sure what those yellow bars were for, I thought they would be dong stunts with skateboards or something, but it turns out to be just a sweet place to chill out and sing some more songs. I really enjoyed the piece "Little Things," it's truly one of the sweetest songs they have made. Just down to earth, and simple, with another guitarist in the background:

Just the way it should be

A portion of the mellow tunes were coming out, and then it seemed to be the end - and that's when the screaming overflowed. I honestly didn't think I could have handled all of that screaming in the audience, but it's necessary in order for the boys to come out once again. The extra bonus included a variety of songs, with highlights such as "You & I," "No Control," and this song that dominated the radio back in 2014:

Story Of My Life

The ending was exceptional, because they were acting like they way they were when they were forming as a band. They even sang Happy Birthday to a fan, and she fainted countless times (I think I would have done the same). There were sweet moments, and also some random choices that made me like these boys even more. From the interesting apparel choices to Niall's rapping (solid effort, the most), there was the energy that seemed missing throughout the night. As the show was getting better, it seemed that Louis wasn't getting tired. Compared to the other members, he just seemed to walk from one side to another, whereas Harry had so much energy, he probably could have kept going into the night:

Niall, Louis, Harry, and no Liam

Look at that face

Another interesting point I noticed that their microphones were colour-coded, except for Niall: his was the flag of Ireland. If anyone stole the show, I think it would have to be the blonde member, as the girls seemed to have screamed louder for him than anyone else. Don't know what's gotten into him, but hopefully he keeps it up:

Niall be rocking out

The set concluded with one final song, which appropriately was "Best Song Ever." I will admit that the show wasn't what I thought it would be, but that is not a bad thing at all. With undying amounts of energy, I didn't  know that an act could keep going without much of a break other than changing your shirt (mostly Liam and Louis). It was a long show, but you really get what you paid for: a night of rambunctious miscreants who are awfully talented. To that, I give my utmost respect to these boys. Whatever comes their way, I can't wait to see what this quartet has to offer (other than fragrances).

Fun times never dies with these guys

Rating: 4 out of 5

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