There was plenty of screaming, more than a couple of tears, a sea of flashing plastic headpieces and an abundance of fireworks as British supergroup One Direction took over Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
Supported ably by Samantha Jade (why this woman isn’t a huge international star is completely beyond us) who performed her hits and by British manband McBusted (let’s face it, the set was pretty much all about Harry’s sweaty chest), Liam, Niall, Louis, Zayn and Harry took to the stage in a frenzy of fireworks and almost deafening screams.
There was no denying the boys’s ability to hold an audience in the palm of their hands as they kicked off their hit-laden set with a burst of fireworks and a performance of ‘Clouds’ from their latest album ‘Four’.
There were more fireworks to accompany ‘Steal My Girl’ and ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go’, also from ‘Four’, the latter performed from the middle stage to the rapture of the predominantly female audience.
It was onto the title track of their previous album ‘Midnight Memories’ next, before they burst into crowd favourite ‘Kiss You’ and ‘Ready To Run’.
‘Happily’ was performed well, accompanied by shots from the flitter cannons placed strategically around the ground, while ‘Strong’ benefited from bold, colourful graphics on the super-sized screens.
Though largely immovable (and probably not used to full effect), the staging was pretty impressive. So too, it has to be said, were all of the boys’ vocals throughout. That said, for the most part, Zayn looked to be a little disinterested and lacking energy; meandering on stage like he’d just stumbled upon a cabinet full of temazepam prior to the show.
The boys stripped things right back, sitting as a fivesome close to the stage, for an acoustic rendition of previous chart favourite ‘Little Things’; the boys bathed in the glimmering mobile phone light of the stadium audience, before bursting into recent single and clear fan fave ‘Night Changes’, which had the entire crowd singing along.
There was a slightly lacklustre “band improv” of the ‘Flintstones’ theme which fell a little flat, but the boys then made up for it; making their way out to the second stage for a performance of ‘Diana’ from ‘Midnight Memories’, during which the stage rose impressively out of the ground, giving the fivesome a birds-eye view of their fans from a few storeys up. Sadly, they didn’t make full use of the raised platform, staying up there for just the one song.
But plenty of hits followed, including ‘One Thing’ and their breakout smash ‘What Makes You Beautiful’, both of which had the crowd in full voice.
‘Through The Dark’ from ‘Midnight Memories’ was a personal favourite, there were more fireworks and a couple more hits in the encore (‘You & I’ and the infectious ‘Best Song Ever’ to close).
It’s been three years since our last taste of 1D in the live realm, but they’ve certainly grown as both performers and as a band.
Personality-wise, Niall and Liam in particular let theirs shine and kept the crowd pumped, Niall through his cheeky rendition of the Australian accent and Liam by his constantly referencing Melbourne and how it was the best audience so far on the tour (they were only four shows in, of course), much to the delight of the crowd (naturally, this schtick will be repeated wherever they go from here on, but it felt halfway genuine).
The boys also showed plenty of camaraderie, often joking with each other on the stage, suggesting they still get along incredible well, even though they’ve lived in each others’ pockets for the best part of the last five years.
Though they felt largely forced and overly-scripted in the smaller venues on our last 1D concert outing (the boys’ first tour), their command of an audience was good, all of their vocals were great and the lighting and staging were amazing, if not a little under-utilised.
Add in flitter cannons and a barrage of fireworks that went off constantly to keep the crowd gasping for more, One Direction put on a show that left us mightily impressed.
We’re sure Zayn would have been too had he not been half asleep.
One Direction plays Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium again tonight before heading off to play their final Aussie dates in Adelaide and Perth.
February 15 : Melbourne (Etihad Stadium)
February 17 : Adelaide (AAMI Stadium)
February 20 : Perth (Patersons Stadium)