One Direction @ Olympic Stadium – September 5, 2015

one direction at olympic stadium2One Direction over the past five years has become a global phenomenon. The type that is only possible for boy bands. From The Beatles to Backstreet Boys to N’Sync over the decades boy bands have caused hysteria and earned themselves tons of money on the backs of young girls (and their parents). The latest version of this is Brit boy band, One Direction, who was birthed out of the Simon Cowell show The X Factor. Since they burst onto the scene with their first single “What Makes You Beautiful” girls from the age of 5 to 20 have screamed shrilly, swooned and made them multi-millionaires. The draw is undeniable; these guys have a huge audience and that was there for all to see at the cavernous Olympic Stadium last night.

Showing that even a band this big cannot make people undertake the long voyage to the toilet bowl shaped Olympic Stadium, those who had purchased tickets way up in the fourth level were moved down to the lower bowl to fill it up. That being said the lower bowl and the floor were jam packed with screaming girls and their parents.

I was left a little perplexed about what to think about the show that One Direction put on. There were several things in the plus category like the guys can really sing and they do each spend time connecting with the audience (maybe except for Louis on this night, but more about that later). But there are plenty of negatives like for a big show there is not much going on to hold your attention – no big lights, no dancing, no special effects. You could look at that as a positive in that One Direction really wants to focus on the music and does not fall into all the traps most pop bands do nowadays of back up dancers, laser light shows, flying around on harnesses, crazy matching outfits, or tight choreography. It did lead to this reviewer getting bored at times. Though I am sure I was in the minority based on the screaming going on.

All in all, despite the fact that I do not fall into the target audience, I felt that the bang of the show did not equal the bucks laid out. When you are paying $120 dollars for a ticket I expect more. More, meaning something I have not seen before. There was one launching of streamers into the crowd during “Steal My Girl” and that was about the end of the special effects. When you are playing big stadiums you have to do much more than they seems willing or comfortable doing to engage those fans far away from the stage. Visuals certainly aren’t One Direction’s forte. At times it was just four guys ambling around a really large stage. I understand if they want to be taken seriously as artists and not dismissed as boy band members, but there still is a happy medium. For God’s sake, even Pink Floyd used giant floating pigs at their shows.

one direction at olympic stadium3The four members of the band seemed thrilled to be on stage and loving the crowd reaction they were getting. Not bothered by the deafeningly shrill shrieking of tens of thousands of young girls at every move they made (though it was so loud at times I felt like I might be bleeding from the ears) each member got their time alone in the spotlight in between songs. Each had a chance as the others changed clothes or drank water to engage the audience. Liam did the most with his time though Harry definitely was the most animated at one point running around the stage to the fans’ delight with a rainbow flag. The most talkative was Liam and he used his time to read signs and get across how much he truly appreciates 1D fans for enable him to have “the best job in the world.” The only downer was that Louis seemed ambivalent about being on stage.

Opening act Icona Pop did a decent job with their 45 minutes in the One Direction spotlight. Making the most of the fact that more people would be seeing them live than they could get on their own, the two female members of the Swedish dance pop duo, Caroline and Aina, pranced around the stage in their matching sparkly outfits warming up the crowd for what was to come. Icona Pop is used to opening for big pop acts in that they had previously served this function for Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, so they did not seem out of place or intimidated by the large venue despite the fact that it is just the two of them and two female back up dancers on stage. While running through songs like the newly released “Emergency”, “All Night” and “Girlfriend” it was all just a lead up to their massive hit which they closed their set with, “I Don’t Care”. The reaction they got and the noise level from the crowd is not what you usually see for an opening act.

As the last notes and shrill screams sounded the end of the near two hour show, fans I’m sure were left satisfied, but wondering what is next for their beloved 1D lads. They have an album coming out shortly with the first already released single being “Drag Me Down”, but there has been an announcement that starting in March they will go on a one year hiatus. Will that signal the end of One Direction? Will last night’s show be their last in Montreal? Who knows. But there are millions who care.

Set List:
1) Clouds
2) Steal My Girl
3) Little Black Dress
4) Where Do Broken Hearts Go
5) Midnight Memories
6) Kiss You
7) Stockholm Syndrome
8) Fireproof
9) Ready to Run
10) Better Than Words
11) Don’t Forget Where You Belong
12) Little Things
13) Night Changes
14) 18
15) No Control
16) Drag Me Down
17) Diana
18) What Makes You Beautiful
19) Through the Dark
20) Girl Almighty
21) Story of My Life
Encore:
22) You & I
23) Act My Age
24) Little White Lies
25) Best Song Ever

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