While it’s true there is a lot of drama, fame, hype, and buzz that typically surrounds the pop mega group One Direction I would submit that there is a whole other side to the group that if you look hard enough, you just might catch a glimpse of. In having the pleasure of watching 1D (as they are called) perform the other night at the Linc (i.e., Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia), I think I actually did see some of that other side.
I was intrigued to catch 1D in this venue because I was here last year when Zayn Malik was still in the group. (He has since left). I was also interested to see how the band was performing in light of recent rumors of a breakup and fatigue. Finally, if nothing else the young group had another year of touring, recording, and performing under their belts so checking their progress was definitely on my agenda this night.
However, for starters, I have to say that the band cannot be any hotter or more popular despite media reports; they are clearly en fuego. For example, consider the fact that the band just set 6–yes 6–Guinness World Records.
For those who are not familiar here are the records 1D set:
First group to debut at No. 1 with their first four albums in the U.S.: Up All Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, Four
First U.K. group to debut at No. 1 in U.S. with debut album Up All Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, Four
Highest debut by U.K. group on U.S. singles chart at No. 3 with Live While We’re Young
Most popular dance game track for their What Makes You Beautiful routine on Just Dance 4, which garnered 36,817,975 views
Most followers on Twitter for a music group: 23,393,106
Most subscribers for a band on YouTube: 36,817,975 views
In addition those staggering numbers also remember that we recently reported on 1D’s streaming record on Spotify.
With all that being said, let’s get to show itself.
First, the stage (both last year and this year) was one of the better ones I have seen and it really suits these artists very well and it deserves some mention. This is primarily because of the extended walkway which allows the guys to constantly parade up and down from the main stage.
The net effect is that this protracted walkway basically equates to dozens of front rows and in fact it maximizes virtually all of the floor seats to premium seats. At the Linc the set up is great as you can see.
So I would give 1D high marks on the amenities.
Second, the musicians backing up 1D are awesome and they played that way on this night. Rounding out the band is musical director and keyboardist Jon Shone; Dan Richards (guitar); Sandy Beales (bass); and, none other than drummer and fan favorite Josh Devine whom we have featured on Beato’s Blog before. The band is solid and just doesn’t miss a cue. A lot of the live success of 1D is due to this band.
In my opinion, Devine is one of the finest live drummers out there and he has just gotten started. Expect more from this young man who not only has chops but also a penchant for promotion.
Third, let’s get to the 1D performers themselves. I thought 1D was better this year without Malik. That’s not to put Zayne down in any way but rather just to give mention to the band appearing to be more engaged this time around. That could be due to there being less performers or each member having to take more of a role to pick up the slack with Malik being gone. Either way, I don’t take a position on which of the singers was the most engaged on this night as that’s really a matter of personal preference. Furthermore, I believe that each member caters to different interests. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that Harry Styles was clearly on his game this night giving his all in his vocal efforts.
I also give Styles props because he recognizes he is a fan favorite and he appears to be the kind of artist who makes an honest effort to reciprocate. Unfortunately, on this night some moron took license to throw a can of Red Bull at Styles which is absolutely inexcusable. But, being the pro he is Styles briefly disappeared and then he returned.
But for me personally, vocally, I have to give the game ball to Liam Payne. Payne was impressive on Girl Almighty as well as other tracks.
However, I was really intrigued to hear how the group would handle some of the higher vocal parts which Malik used to man. One of them being in the hit You and I. The part in that song, which requires some pipes, is inescapable and on this night Payne hit it. In fact, it appeared that anytime the band needed that “closer from the bull pen” Payne was right there to shut the door and nail the part. I give the man props for stepping up to fill the void following Malik’s departure. Horan was his reliable and his usual likeable self while Tomlinson nicely rounded out the core four.
The harmonies were also excellent on this night as was evident in various tracks including Night Changes.
Fourth, I want to make mention of the growing maturity of the group and their song selection. This was evident in the group’s performance of their first major hit entitled What Makes You Beautiful (2011). I would not characterize that song’s performance on this night as being perfunctory as much as I would consider it obligatory. There was an obvious difference in the intensity level and passion in the group’s performance on that tune versus their latest release which was entitled Drag Me Down. That difference in intensity is a clear barometer in terms of what “direction” (no pun intended) the group is moving in either collectively or individually. However, with four albums of material to choose from the group nicely sprinkled in fan favorites from all four records including, Don’t Forget Where You Belong, Where Do Broken Hearts Go?, Midnight Memories, and of course, Best Song Ever. But, the group also showed some taste by paying homage to Philadelphia via their impromptu rendition of the theme to the Philadelphia based 1990s hit sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The rendition was a nice salute to Philadelphia. All in all, 1D gave a solid 2+ hour performance.
In the end, I don’t suggest that you judge this group on the age of their fans (although I noted a significantly larger adult faction this go around) or, the masterminded marketing plan underlying Directioner world. No doubt both elements exist. Yes, there are thousands (if not millions) of screeching girls admiring and watching every 1D move and yes, the pre-game is an extended infomercial for perfume, 5 Seconds of Summer (partially owned by 1D), and, other Cowell prospects or related 1D subsidiaries. However, both the screeching fans and the “Star Wars” marketing are merely the reality of big business. In fact, I could not help but notice that 1D members mentioned several times during the night their gratitude and self-proclaimed awe in being a “stadium” band. My point is that they are, and have been, doing something right. I cannot think of many groups that could continually sell out stadiums internationally the way 1D has been doing for the last couple of years.
Indeed, the numbers are nothing short of staggering. Thus, I suggest you give the group a chance and take a second to look behind all the spectacle and hoopla to see what’s really going on here. I am telling you that it’s something special. At the end of the day this is a solid group of performers with a very solid backup band of musicians. There is also a viable visible product. Add to that a solid 2+ hour tour of their growing catalog, and its great entertainment. The current form of 1D no doubt has a shelf life and that’s evolutionary. They have to change just like David Cassidy could not permanently remain as Keith Partridge and Miley Cyrus could not permanently play Hannah Montana. Therefore, you might want to catch 1D before before they’re gone; hiatus or no hiatus.
But I think to write this group off as a “boy band” or music solely for adolescents is selling the core four short. They are much more than that and if you take a moment to check them out I believe they will steer you in the right direction.
In the end I give 1D this rating: