1D still a big part of Harry Styles evident in PH concert
A concert’s impact largely depends on the strength of its repertoire. Thus, the most gratifying of music gigs are usually delivered by artists who already have a couple of studio albums or a string of hits under their belts.
Harry Styles doesn’t have that privilege yet—something he humbly acknowledged when he brought his world tour to the SM Mall of Asia Arena last Tuesday.
“I only have 10 songs to my name,” the British singer-songwriter said, referring to the tracks on his eponymous debut solo album.
To reinforce his set, what he was going to do, he said, was play “some old ones.” And by which, he meant the hits of One Direction, the boy band he was a part of for six years.
Harry performed and put his own flavor on such songs as “Stockholm Syndrome,” “If I Could Fly” and “What Makes You Beautiful”—much to the delight of the packed audience composed mostly of giddy young girls who screamed and sang along to the music they practically grew up with.
He also did a cover of “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac and sang “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart,” a song he wrote for pop star Ariana Grande.
At this point in his career, it’s apparent that One Direction is still a big part of him—and perhaps will always be. But as he has shown in this concert, his past shouldn’t define who he is. Because he was compelled to sing all the songs in his album, Harry was able to paint a clear picture of the musical identity he intends to pursue as a solo artist.
Unlike the other One Direction star, Zayn Malik, who dove into R&B, which currently permeates the pop landscape, Harry marched to a different beat.
The 24-year-old singer’s sound is a throwback to the rock music from decades past—a mix of country and blues—which he rendered either with a guitar slung over his shoulder, or with gangly Mick Jagger-esque dance moves.
“I have one job … and that’s to entertain you. And I promise I will do my very best,” Harry told the thousands of fans in attendance. “Your job this evening is to have the absolute time of your life. So, if you wanna sing, dance—please do. Feel free to be who you want to be in this room tonight.”
The truth was, Harry—who sported a vest on top a frilly lilac blouse and pair of bell-bottom pants—could have just stood onstage, and it would have been enough for the fans.
Still, he doubled on the charm offensive, blowing kisses to the crowd as he ran side to side, before getting on the country rock ditty, “Only Angel.”
“Every one of you looks fabulous tonight!” he quipped, turning everyone into a puddle of mush.
There was “Woman,” a midtempo song laden with sexy guitar licks. The rambunctiousness of the blues-rock “Kiwi,” on the other hand, had everyone jumping up and down, as Harry sang and danced like no one was watching.
He then opened a bottle of water and splashed the crowd, prompting them to crank up the decibels even higher.
He sounded solid throughout the show, mounted by MMI Live. The slight huskiness of his lower and middle registers lent itself well to his style. But, he has his limitations.
His carrier single, the soaring, apocalyptic pop-rock anthem, “Sign of the Times,” is his most vocally demanding song, and had proven to be a task for Harry—a baritone—to pull off live, as he did on record.
It was no different this time; Harry erred on the side of caution, dodging most of the high belted notes in the song’s climax.
He shone brightest, however, in his mellower and no-nonsense numbers that showcased some of his most earnest and emotionally connected singing, as in the wistful “Two Ghosts,” the angsty psychedelic pop “Meet Me in the Hallway,” the romantic folk ballad “Sweet Creature,” and the tender yet haunting “From the Dining Table.”
“I’m completely overwhelmed,” he said. “Things like these don’t happen to me very often. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being so welcoming—I love every single one of you!”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.