On October 12th, I went to Harry Styles’ show of Love on Tour in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In the wake of Covid-19, the concert was delayed over a year after the originally scheduled date.
This was my first time ever seeing Harry Styles live. While I am a fan of Harry’s and mildly followed One Direction years ago, I would not at all consider myself a die hard fangirl as I feel my friends and many of the other attendees are. Although I did thoroughly enjoy the concert, I had different opinions and perspectives because I am a bigger fan of music as a whole than Harry Styles himself.
What most impressed me about seeing Harry Styles live was his vocals. His voice was undoubtedly beautiful and he sounded just as good live as he did on the album, if not better. There were several instances where he performed a slightly different version of the original melody to songs, which was a nice twist that made for a better and more exclusive listening experience. He took the easy way out on some high notes, but overall he sounded great. While he was running around stage with high energy, he was still managing to clearly sing over the backing track and sound good while doing it, which deserves recognition. In addition to his vocals, Harry played guitar on a few songs, with complementing acoustic on “Fine Line” and “Cherry” that definitely added to the sound and presentation.
Harry performed 17 songs, including three during the encore. The majority of songs on the setlist came from Fine Line; every song on the album was played with the exception of “To Be So Lonely.” The lineup also included five songs from Harry Styles and One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.” The setlist for every show of Love on Tour has been almost identical, unfortunately making the experience feel a bit generic and staged. Because the tour was only of his sophomore album, he has a smaller pool of songs to choose from and played the majority of his discography. Hearing nearly all of his solo music live was rewarding but knowing the order of what was coming destroyed the element of surprise and gave the feel that Harry had done this many times before. Similarly, It was entertaining and nostalgic to hear a One Direction throwback song but something about the delivery felt played out and less passionate than it could have been. Though it is understandable to want to leave a child-star-Disneyesque past behind him, Harry could have either gone all the way with it or scratched the One Direction performance all together. Perhaps a cover of something he is more currently interested in would have been more fitting.
The band made the concert. Every member of Harry’s band is exceptionally talented, especially guitarist Mitch Rowland and killer drummer Sarah Jones. While most members of the nine-piece band contribute to backing vocals, each member is most notable for instrumentals. The entire band contributed unique additions to the show, with solos, harmonies, and rhythm that made all the difference. Watching the energy of the band and their interactions with Harry made the performance entertaining and dynamic to watch. Towards the end of the show, Harry took the time to thank each member of the band by name and encourage the crowd to show their support, which was a nice touch. It is clear that each member has a real connection to Harry, which felt endearing.
The crowd maintained high energy for the entire show and it was clear that the fans had come prepared. One of the highlights of the night was seeing all of the vibrant, outlandish outfits and costumes fans had put together to celebrate and show their support. The crowd was lively and happy to be there.
I heard many attendees and even personal friends who were there describe the experience as “life-changing,” but I personally did not feel the same. Throughout the concert, there was little crowd interaction from Harry, inevitably giving the show a distanced feel. The progression of the show felt scheduled and rehearsed and went quickly from song to song with little room for intimate interaction with the crowd between. Other than the one or two times Harry shouted “Raleigh,” the show was indistinguishable from any given stop of Love on Tour. It was clear that the fans prioritized the notion of Harry Styles over the actual quality of the performance and Harry seemed to be relying on this, as well. Being a newer solo artist, it is not surprising that there were moments to be improved upon, and I would love to see Harry again on another tour in the future.