“Our job is to entertain you the best you can and your job is to have as much fun as you can,” said One Direction singer Harry Styles at the beginning of last night’s two-hour show at FirstEnergy Stadium. You can see a slideshow of photos from the show here
The irony in the matter, however, was that the band started its performance half an hour late. And the show began with not one but two Honda ads. And then, the guys had to nerve to cut alcohol sales a mere half hour into the performance. Surely, some of the parents who attended the boy band concert with their overexcited tween or teen needed a drink or three to get through the night. What gives?
Anyway, as far as the actual performance went, the concert started strong, hit a lull and then finished strong. Perhaps the mid-show lull was due to the fact that the group overestimated its ability to command the gigantic stage that was the width of the football field and included a catwalk that extended to mid-field. The stage featured three huge video screens that regularly projected images of the band members as they performed. But there’s a reason only a few acts — namely, the Stones, U2 and whatever country act is hot at the moment — can play stadiums. You need a deep catalog to pull it off and One Direction, which formed only five years ago, hasn't reach that point yet (and maybe never will).
The concert commenced with literal fireworks as the foursome strutted onto the stage to perform “Clouds,” which, with its call-and-response vocals, served as a fitting opening number. The catchy “Steal My Girl” came off well as the song benefited from heavy percussion. The punchy “Little Black Dress” came off well too. But with “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” a cheesy ballad that sounded like a bad REO Speedwagon tune (is there such a thing as a good REO Speedwagon song?), the concert hit a snag as the guys offered up one ballad about heartbreak after another.
Things got back on track with the shimmering “No Control” and the boisterous “Drag Me Down.” The guys hammed it up too, spraying each other with water pistols before ending the show with the celebratory “Story of My Life,” a tune that showed off their ability to harmonize. They would return for an encore that started with the ballad “You & I.”
In the midst of a huge North American tour, the group announced it would be taking a hiatus and not tour in support of its upcoming album. More than one media pundit has suggested it’s not likely the band will return. Band members took turns profusely thanking fans for their support. That made the show feel like a farewell concert. Given that the band’s popularity has likely peaked, the decision to go out on top seems to be the smart move.