I thought I knew exactly what I’d see as I walked through the door right before Louis Tomlinson hit the stage at The Armory. Excited Chaos. Jumping. Running. Screaming. When I looked up I saw a very well-behaved crowd, standing almost in orderly waves across the room. It was packed, but it was almost peaceful. Every fan was rocking the hottest accessory – a stuffed brown paper merch bag. Quiet conversations filled the room, and some even sat on the floor. On a Friday? For a One Direction member?! What is happening?!
I think they were conserving their energy, though, because the screaming hit decibels I didn’t know were possible when the lights came up and Louis Tomlinson hit the stage. I’ve seen Harry Styles twice, and I can tell you. These fans had something on a sold-out Madison Square Garden Love On Tour crowd. Guess who forgot their earplugs? I’m going to be paying for this for weeks.
Tomlinson burst onto the stage with his band to absolute pandemonium. The front row was lined with some of the most rabid fans I’ve seen in recent memory. They held signs, flowers, barbies, and flags. Risers lit up the stage and gave platforms for the musicians to absolutely shred and shine through the night. Screens hung from the ceiling with graphics mirroring any classic pop-punk motif, complete with live video fed through camcorder-style filters. Confetti canons lined the front of the stage. If that wasn’t enough, he started with “The Greatest” with a literal background of flames. It was one of the biggest productions I’ve seen at The Armory.
I was glad that the calm that covered the room between sets had been shed because this show deserved all the screams and energy. It is one of the best feelings in the world to be in a room where people are having the time of their lives. Some of my earliest big memories are of this. Seeing bands I loved at the ripe age of 6. I think I chase that feeling everywhere I go. It makes me emotional to see a huge room like this filled with those experiences – especially knowing that Tomlinson played the much smaller Fillmore just a year ago.
This show was first and foremost for the fans. Louis paused between songs to express his gratitude for his fans who let him do his “favorite part of the job.” He seemed on top of the world as he took care to reach out to every corner of the venue from the stage during his 22-song set. As he launched into One Direction’s hit “Night Changes” you could feel years of bottled-up teenage excitement released. It is really special to see an artist go solo and still give the fans a little taste of what brought them along on the journey. They were rewarded in spades, too. Louis even jumped down into the pit in a flood of streamers to be in with the fans.
The show was just FUN. It was classic Louis but tinged with pieces that felt inspired by Oasis, The Bravery, Franz Ferdinand, and Jimmy Eat World. Just wonderful energy and big production. It was about an hour and a half packed with songs from his full career. I walked to the back to take in the views and saw a field of small pride flags waving. It looked like a mini Glastonbury Festival.
The Armory staff and Louis touring team did an incredible job making sure this was the best night possible. Louis Tomlinson has a reputation for this, and I can see why. The show followed a personal message from Louis asking for fans to keep hydrated and take care of each other. Staff was keeping the water passed through the crowd. Paramedics were ready in the wings but didn’t seem to be too busy. Safe to say that this show was a smashing success in every way.
I can count on one hand the number of times I have missed openers for a show I was covering. Unfortunately, this was one. I was really excited to check out The Snuts and Andrew Cushing, but sometimes life gets in the way. I’m going to be sure to check both out next time they come to town. The people I talked to said that they were perfect for this tour. Cushing seemed to be a powerful acoustic appetizer to a night of alt-pop. The Snuts warmed the crowd up with a high-energy set. See you next time, boys!
Kill My Mind
Bigger Than Me
Holding on to Heartache
Face the Music
We Made It
Night Changes (One Direction cover)
High in California
Written All Over Your Face
All This Time
She Is Beauty We Are World Class
Copy of a Copy of a Copy
505 (Arctic Monkeys cover)
Back to You
Out of My System
Where Do Broken Hearts Go (One Direction cover)