I’ve been a fan of One Direction since I was in 8th grade. Now, I’m a junior in college and I still stan the band hardcore, even if they perform solo now. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t just a phase, mom! Because they were with me during the most pivotal years of my life (middle school and high school), I relate the band members and their music to this significant time as a source of positivity and consistency among a time full of changes and discoveries.
After attending 8 of their shows over the course of 4 years, I somehow survived nearly three years without seeing any member of One Direction live. This summer, however, I was lucky enough to see Harry Styles at Madison Square Garden, and just last weekend I saw Niall Horan for his Flicker World Tour at PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey. The energy at Niall’s show was just exhilarating and I have to tell you all about it.
The show opened with Maren Morris, who is a country artist. I was surprised at how small she was in person! I even googled her age because she looked so young (she’s 28)! Not only is she beautiful and just adorable, but she has a really fun and energetic stage presence. I knew a few of her songs; “Rich” and “I Could Use a Love Song”, but my favorite was probably when she closed with “The Middle”, a song that I didn’t even realize she was a part of! She did a great job of getting the crowd excited for the main act. I was happy because I knew she would be coming back out later on to perform her collaboration with Niall called “Seeing Blind”.
About 40 minutes later, Niall came on stage and performed his opening song, “On the Loose”. From the moment he walked on stage, I knew I was in for an awesome concert. A lot of Niall’s songs are slower and more relaxed, so I was anticipating a more reserved and a rather calm crowd. But, I was totally wrong! The energy in the amphitheater was ELECTRIC from the first note he played. I was at the same venue the night before for the 5 Seconds of Summer concert, and despite their intense music, I absolutely did not feel the same amount of energy from that crowd as I did with Niall’s.
The crowd was respectful, though, giving Niall attention when he spoke between songs and listening carefully to the softer songs. When it came to the more upbeat songs, however, the audience was on another level – dancing with their arms in the air, singing along with all the voice that was left in them – myself included. I felt like I was on top of the world during the show and that nothing could stop me from getting lost in the music of the moment. I can’t even describe it. It was a feeling I have never felt before.
In the middle of the concert, Niall even performed a few covers! A huge Bruce Springsteen fan, he’s covered “Dancing in the Dark” throughout the tour, but it was extra special when he sang the legend’s iconic song in his home state! He also sang The Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” which I wasn’t familiar with but enjoyed nonetheless! “Fool’s Gold” was another song he covered (although is this even a cover if he’s a part of the band that originally sings it?) as well as a song he wrote that didn’t make it on the album called “So Long”.
Before “So Long”, he sat at the piano (see photo below) and gave a sweet speech about how he loves this song, but it didn’t fit with the sound of the album. I thought it was cool of him to share behind-the-scenes details in order to establish a connection with the audience. You could tell how much he really respected the music, as well, because he politely told the crowd not to try to sing along with this song if they didn’t know the words. He humorously said, “you all will just sound like buzzing bees if you try to mumble or hum the words, so don’t sing if you don’t know the words! Just clap or dance along!” It was a special moment!
The highlight of the night was undeniably when he sang “Drag Me Down”, though. My favorite One Direction single + some extra electric guitar = the ultimate experience. Of course, this was a crowd favorite because most people know and like Niall because of One Direction. There were also some songs that I wasn’t a huge fan of from the album, but listening to them live really helped me enjoy them. For example, “Flicker”, which is also the title of the album, got me unexpectedly emotional. He told the crowd to put away their phones for this song and to just embrace the moment. I cried a little during this song because not only was it just beautiful, but that was when I realized, “I’m actually seeing Niall like he is right there in front of me?!” For the rest of the concert, I was conscious of using my phone and more focused on appreciating the moment at hand. It was amazing.
One of my favorite songs off his album is “Mirrors”, which is what he closed the show with! It was a perfect way to end a great night.
I also have to mention how there was a young girl sitting next to me with her mom and she told me with the biggest smile on her face, “This is my first concert! I love Niall!”. I literally almost cried because she was so adorable. She loves One Direction and her favorite member is Harry, like me. I showed her the pictures and videos of when I saw him in June and she freaked out. Talking with her made me take a step back and remember the early days of when I first discovered One Direction. I never thought that almost seven years later I would still be here supporting them in their solo careers!
In all, this show exceeded my already very high expectations. The Flicker World Tour is very close to being over now and I’ll be playing Niall’s set list to hold me over until next time: https://open.spotify.com/user/1258753853/playlist/2mpoVdk6asQ4ekhHGEuwvh?si=kKsJKyI9TzyuirhDez1meg
I’d love to hear if you went to any of the Flicker World Tour shows, too! Shoot us a tweet @hcsusquehanna with your thoughts!