thu 20/02/2020

One Direction, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh | reviews, news & interviews

One Direction, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh

One Direction, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh

The 1D juggernaut rolls into the Scottish capital - or was it Manchester?

Heading in the right direction? Louis, Liam, Harry, Niall and Zayn

The sheer scale of One Direction’s global victory march is something to behold. Last night’s stopover on their Where We Are tour was the biggest concert ever staged by one band on Scottish soil, with 64,000 fans pouring into the national rugby stadium (I didn’t conduct a scientific poll of the gender split, but it had certainly never been easier to use the Gents at Murrayfield.)

Everything was bright and brilliant and giddily over-sized, from the piercing screams that greeted every banal utterance (“We love you, Scotland!”), to the price of the merch: £10 for a flimsy plastic lanyard is pretty much the definition of a license to print money, is it not? The vast main stage was decked out like a Hot Wheels toy, red and black with a maze of ramps and chutes and slides, connected to a B-stage in the middle of the park by a walkway which saw a lot of traffic during the 100-minute show.

Harry Styles was a spare part, reduced to wandering around goofily with a scarf on his head

Every two or three songs a little piece of WOW happened: flames or bursts of rainbow colour shot into the air behind the stage; red and white streamers festooned the crowd on the pitch; 30-foot high graphics danced on giant screens. During “One Thing” the B-stage rose up like an air-borne boxing ring (pictured below), the band performing halfway between the earth and the sky for the benefit of those at the far end of the stadium.

All this hi-tech chicanery served as a distraction from the fact that 1D don’t actually do very much. Only the angelic Irish one, Niall Horan, plays the guitar, which he clung to as though it held the promise of a better life yet to come. The rest of the band stood on stage with a heartfelt hand pressed to their chests, or strolled up and down the catwalk, bantering with the crowd and each other. There were no coordinated costumes, no dance routines, no guest slots, surprises or pre-rehearsed patter.

This just-out-of-bed stagecraft, as much as the not inconsiderable pull of their songs, is key to their appeal. One Direction are a long way from being slick or ultra-choreographed; they are, in fact, possibly a bit haphazard and slapdash. Last night’s super-sized infrastructure was in place to serve five dressed-down boys next door whose endless outpouring of gratitude to “the best fans in the world” was at first endearing and then rapidly became a little wearing.

The recent tabloid fuss-over-nothing regarding whether or not Zayn Malik was filmed smoking dope was naturally off the agenda, although Malik kicked up another mini furore by greeting the Edinburgh crowd with the words “Hello Manchester!”, the kind of fatal faux-pas which has seen less bullet-proof bands bottled all the way back to the border. In this case, such was the devotion in the roofless room, it merely threw a fleeting cloud over the night’s otherwise wholly sunny countenance.

They played all the songs everyone wanted to hear in versions as close to the records as could be hoped for in a stadium, albeit one enjoying the benefits of a balmy night and an excellent sound system. A no-frills four-piece backing band bashed out the music, and the five fellows sang them simply and well. Or rather, four of them did. Suffering from a wrecked throat, Harry Styles was a spare part, reduced to wandering around goofily with a scarf on his head; at one point he sat on the edge of the stage and used his microphone as a fishing rod. It didn’t matter much. Every line he missed was sung for him by the crowd. The important thing, clearly, was simply that he was there.

Three albums into their career, One Direction are in the throes of negotiating the transition from teeny boy band to twenty something pop-rockers more in the vein of their support band 5 Seconds of Summer. It means they will eventually have to drop the cheesy, sit-down-and-strum balladry of songs like “Don’t Forget Where You Belong” which made the set sag in the middle like a pre-war mattress, and come up with more winners like “Midnight Memories”, “Rock Me”, “I Lied” and the closing “Best Song Ever”. That shouldn’t be beyond the capabilities of an enterprise which has become adept at incorporating elements from a wide range of sources – The Who, Mumford & Sons, Van Halen, even a smear of dubstep here and there – and fashioning it into ruthlessly efficient pop music.

So, what did we learn? That One Direction are making a decent fist of the tricky business of being the world’s biggest pop band. That they can function with a man down. And that the future may well be in lanyards.

One Direction are making a decent fist of the tricky business of being the world’s biggest pop band

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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