He came, he saw, he rocked.
Young singer-songwriter Harry Styles proved there’s life beyond multi-platinum selling One Direction (1D) as he successfully made a leap from cute, teenybopper singer to bonafide rockstar, filling the 20,000 capacity Mall of Asia Arena for the Manila stop of his ongoing world tour last night.
Note that Globe’s pre-sale for the concert broke Coldplay’s record of six minutes by selling out in “52 seconds,” according to Bandwagon Asia.
We thought it was mere hype meant to pad sales but we were wrong. We were taken aback seeing the long line of fans snaking their way to the venue as early as 6 p.m.
Of course, we bravely joined in, having no choice in the matter; and we actually got into the venue some two hours later, all sweaty and hot. Thankfully, the MOA air-conditioning system was in full blast. It didn’t feel quite like it, though, as we were joined by thousands of excited young girls eager to swoon over Mr. Styles like zombies to fresh meat.
There was a bit of wait before the opening act, Warpaint, started the program with a helping of their own brand of pop rock. Though good enough, it seems fans couldn’t wait long enough for Styles, making their displeasure felt clapping rather economically each time the band finishes a song.
Warpaint was done some 40 minutes later but Styles wouldn’t appear until after some 15 minutes more, hitting the stage at exactly 9 p.m.
Seeing the pop star was like seeing a young version of Mick Jagger (Yeah, one of the founding members of Rolling Stones): He was all swagger. He was brave too, fashion-wise, wearing a lilac silk crêpa-de-chine ruffled cuffed blouse, paired with black wool waistcoat with matching black wool flares.
Already, there was screaming everywhere, take note, he hasn’t even sung yet. It only got louder when he started his first number, the rocking “Only Angel,” a cut from his eponymous debut solo album. He would follow it up with fan favorite “Woman” before slowing things down a bit with contemplative numbers “Ever Since New York,” and “Two Ghost,” said to be about his failed relationship with Taylor Swift.
Around this time we thought we are going to lose our hearing. It was utter pandemonium with young girls and boys alike screaming their hearts out, singing along with Styles. We were also thinking somewhere, someone would surely give into fainting given the unbridled excitement… thankfully there was none.
That he performed most numbers with a guitar slung on his shoulder also similarly signals Styles’ departure from his pop idol days.
But stage veteran that he is, the 24-year-old artist made clear he is not too old to interact with his young fans, at some point getting off the stage to hobnob with them. These only served to further push the temperatures to searing level, with one fan seemingly going nearly crazy having supposedly touched an inch of Styles.
Talk about making things even hotter than it was. Wooh!
All the while, he was polite, caring to ask the crowd, “You guys alright?” followed by the usual one phrase sycophancy “It’s nice to be here in Manila!” as with “Mahal ko kayo!”
The fun continued with Styles singing more tracks off his solo album including “Carolina,” and “Sweet Creature,” among others.
We were surprised with the depth of his songwriting. “Meet Me In The Hallway” for one sounds like something John Lennon would have written. “Sign Of The Times,” on the other hand wouldn’t be out of place in say, well, a Prince album.
Speaking of Prince, Styles has also started writing songs for other artists. He even performed one for his Manila fans, the lovely “Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart,” which he wrote for Ariana Grande.
Then there’s the yet to be commercially released track “Medicine,” which had fans speculating about their idol’s true sexuality. And all because somewhere in there Styles sung the lines “The boys and the girls are in, I mess around with him, And I’m okay with it..” many are now thinking he has come out as bisexual.
It didn’t help matters that he threw into the crowd a gigantic rainbow flag, long symbolic for the LGBTQ community. Hmmm…
Then again, Styles (or his management) was adroit enough to make sure he includes some 1D numbers in the proceedings, as if to say “I’m still the same boy you loved all those years ago.”
1D numbers Styles performed in the show are “Stockholm Syndrome,” “If I Could Fly,” and “What makes You Beautiful.” Styles opted to end the show with the rocking “Kiwi.”
In all, we felt the teenage boy who’s finally allowed to make the music he wants, to do whatever he wants without prejudice, feels only too happy to be where he is.
This is just the start of Styles’ blooming career as a solo artist and the concert was definitely a taster that left all of us wanting for more. There, ‘till we meet again.
Tags: CONCERT REVIEW: How Harry got fans giddy at PH concert, Globe Social Media, Harry Styles, Mall of Asia Arena, Manila Bulletin, Manila Bulletin Entertainment, Manila leg, mb.com.ph, One Direction (1D), Warpaint