One Direction currently have the number one album in Australia, a tour that sold out in less than three minutes and fans willing to pay upwards of $1000 for scalped tickets. Not bad for a band that was completely unknown outside of Britain six months ago. After spending the past couple of days soaking up the Sydney sun, it was finally time for the boys to face their fans this afternoon with back-to-back shows at the Hordern Pavilion. And they didn’t disappoint. Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall and Zayn are natural entertainers and instantly won over the crowd with their perky pop tunes and easy charm.
The show started with a cute projection introducing the band members. Each name was greeted with near-deafening screams, which only got louder when the boys walked on stage and launched straight into “Na Na Na”. Louis, the elder statesman of the group at 20, took lead vocals – allowing the rest of the group to roam the stage and play up to fans. Album tracks “Stand Up” and “I Wish” followed before Harry felt the urge to get know everyone a little better by staging a screaming competition. It ended in a draw and sore eardrums all around.
Despite minimal production values – the recent SNL performers were only supported by a four-piece band and one large screen – the show was tightly orchestrated and cleverly constructed. For example, the setlist was broken into three segments, each representing a different season. A beach-theme projection heralded the One Direction Summer experience, which was soundtracked by a medley of covers. Zayn kicked things off with a breezy cover of Black Eyed Peas’ party anthem “I Gotta Feeling”, while Niall settled on Gym Class Heroes’ “Stereo Hearts”.
The solos continued with Louis belting out “Valerie” and Liam, perhaps the most engaging live performer, singing Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” – albeit with toned-down lyrics. The 18-year-old was “broken on the floor” instead of “naked”. Fair enough. Summer came to its inevitable end with a rousing rendition of the Ed Sheeran-penned ballad “Moments”. Louis described it as his favourite song on Up All Night and he’s not alone in that opinion if the swooning girls in the audience are any indication.
Autumn [Fall] was ushered in by the band’s UK second single “Gotta Be You”. The song doesn’t quite match the heights of their other hits, which is probably why it has been overlooked in America and Australia in favor of “One Thing”. Next up was synth-ballad “More Than This” and an interactive segment in which the Billboard cover boys answered tweets from fans in the audience. Highlights were Zayn agreeing to perform the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air rap, Harry drawing a blank when asked about his most embarrassing moment and Niall’s impressive attempt at an Aussie accent.
One Direction — “One Thing” (live in Sydney)
“Up All Night” got the party started again. The catchy pop/rock anthem sounded great live and seems a logical choice for a future single. It screams hit, and the chart history-makers have already devised some raunchy choreography that basically involves thrusting their hips. The upbeat party jams continued with “Tell Me A Lie” and the electro-tinged “Everything About You”. Zayn then brought Autumn to a close by taking over the decks and playing some of his favorite club-bangers, most notably Calvin Harris’ current hit “Feel So Close”.
The Winter projection drew squeals of delight as the Kids Choice performers were shown in long-johns and other not-entirely-appropriate cold weather attire. One Direction returned to stage looking snug in jumpers, scarves and coats to perform Kings Of Leon’s mega-hit “Use Somebody”. It was a surprisingly accomplished effort and proved that the band is more than capable of evolving its sound in the future. Not that they need to worry about that while they’re still churning out gems like “One Thing”. Fake snow fell from the roof as the fantastic fivesome belted out their current Top 10 Australian hit and hammed it up for their smitten fans.
Album track “Save You Tonight” sounded a little out of place – probably because it was squeezed between the band’s biggest hits. The song was followed by One Direction’s worldwide smash “What Makes You Beautiful”, which got the most enthusiastic response of the night. Liam really came into his own, jumping around the stage with the swagger of a young Robbie Williams. After a quick break, the boys came back looking extremely dapper in formal wear to close the show with the quirky “I Want”. It looks like at least part of the ‘Spring’ segment might have been cut due to time restrictions but the sobbing girls around me were too busy having the best night of their life to notice.