Harry Styles: One Night Only review – a lively lovefest on Long Island | Harry Styles

The distant screams you heard in New York on Friday night? That was nearly 20,000 fans freaking out over a chance to see Harry Styles Perform his new album, Harry’s House, for one night only at UBS arena on Long Island.


Whether you are a fan of Styles or not (I am), you cannot deny that he is very good at his job. The 28-year-old pop star went through the stadium show wringer with One Direction – the mega-profitable boy band that played over 100 arena shows a year in the mid-2010s – and his comfort on a large stage is clear. Dressed in leather pants, a heart-adorned tee and a yellow bauble necklace, Styles was loose without being impulsive, improvisational without missing his beats, typically charming and sincere without tipping too far into cliche. He’s a professional celebrity and seasoned entertainer at home in the ring, playing to the rafters, the packed floor, and the on-stage camera (the show was livestreamed on Apple Music).

“Our job tonight is to entertain you. I promise we’ll do our very best,” he said after the second song, Late Night Talking, as part of his now-standard show opener of acceptance. “Please feel free to do whatever it is that you want to do, please feel free to be whoever it is you’ve always wanted to be.”

The 19-song set reflected the ethos of Styles’s five-year-old solo career: a carefree lovefest, a welcoming space to get a little loose, with songs primarily for and about women. As such, the crowd was solidly 85% female, ranging from middle school to middle age (it is remarkable Harry Styles has appealed to teenage girls for over a decade, speaking as a former teenage 1D fan.) Many already knew all the words for the new songs, even the scattershot lyrics of Keep Driving – “How?!” Styles said at one point – and the evening in the building was an unending tide of screams.

Harry Styles performing at UBS Arena
Photograph: Apple Music

Having a good time at a Harry Styles show is an easy ask, because he also seems to be having a blast – skipping up and down the stage runway, pinwheeling his arms to current single As It Was, full-body fist-pumping to the sonic climaxes of his more stadium-sized songs, such as the new track satellite or first-album crowd favorite Kiwi. The set followed the structure of his first One Night Only concert for second album Fine Line in December 2019, in Los Angeles: the new album top to bottom – “the way it was intended to be” – followed by an encore of favorites. In this case: Adore You, Watermelon Sugar, Sign of the Times (the hit that benefits the most from live performance), his standard rock solo version of 1D’s What Makes You Beautiful, Kiwi and a redux of As It Was.

The new album, as Lindsay Zoladz wrote in the New York Times, casts vivid sonic landscapes while keeping Styles a dreamy cipher – a contrast less noticeable in the live performance. Styles has been, since the earliest days of 1D, almost comically charismatic, a magnetic on-stage presence, and his confident live rendition of Harry’s House channeled a fervor the lyrics do not. There is also, of course, the sex factor: this being, as some have written, Styles’ horniest album yet, the singer indulged in many a loose-hipped dance, and played into his image as an attentive provider of female pleasure. (When he interrupted the beginning of Boyfriends because “I have more to say” he added, “Sorry-edging”, to a collective squeal.) Is it pandering? Maybe. Is it fun? Absolutely.

That’s in part due to his easy command of the stage, and healthy appreciation for the power and pitfalls of a crowd. Twice during the show fans summoned his attention to a disturbance on the floor – assumedly someone passed out or felt unwell – and he responded promptly, asking several times to raise the house lights and another time to bring water.

Between songs, he thanked his co-producers on the album, Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson, who were both in the crowd (along with Styles’ girlfriend Olivia Wilde) as well as frequent collaborator and on-stage guitarist Mitch Rowland. But the most profuse and repeated gratitude went to the fans – “each and every one of you” – for changing his life. “I don’t think I would’ve been able to make this [album] if it wasn’t for you creating an environment for me where I feel like I can, I know that I can,” he said in the second half do the show. “And I know that it’s me who stands up on this stage, but I learned so much from you, and I want to thank you so much.”

“This has been the best night of my life,” he said before leaving the stage. It doesn’t really matter whether or not that’s true. The mission was to have a standout good time, and on that he delivered.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button