Words Joelle Reid
A gaggle of young girls and their respective mothers came out in their droves last night to see Niall Horan live at the Spark Arena. The shrill of their screams could be heard from outside, but I braved the crowds to see what the hype was all about.
The ex One Direction member traded in his signature platinum blonde hair for a darker hue which suitably signalled his transition from ‘flashy’ pop career, to a more chilled folk style, as he showcased his songs off his debut album Flicker, surprisingly well too. The album definitely has some harder rock elements with him rocking out on guitar for majority of the show, but he also surprised us with a talent for piano especially on his slower songs. His live band was excellent at capturing this style, however, the aforementioned genre didn’t stray too far from pop-ears, which is how I think he has maintained this largely young-screaming-female crowd.
By cutting down the venue it created an intimate vibe which worked surprisingly well. As he spoke to the audience (between the screaming teens ) it felt very personal. During the song ‘Flicker’ he asked his captivated audience to “turn their phones off for a couple of minutes” and “close your eyes and let it take you somewhere”. I was actually surprised that everyone actually followed suit and silence of the people followed.
Of course, Horan also had that reflective musician moment of making everyone wave their phone torches around. The pause meant there was change in stage lighting as the concert itself was simply lit with warm hued lights – nothing flashy compared to his boy band days. The trick is getting old, but for his audience, a little bit of cheese was kind of cute. That’s the beauty of a teen heart throb like Niall Horan.
The thing that surprised me most about this concert was his actual singing talent. By going solo, Niall Horan was able to showcase perfect tone and tune which was hidden behind his 1D counterparts. He loses his thick Irish lilt as he sings to entertain with an impressive set of vocals. This was shown off on his cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’. He did play a few covers which maybe a credit to the limitations of only having one album out, but, it did make things more interesting to see where his voice could go with songs already familiar to the audience.
The real hitter though, was Horan performing a few One Direction songs, like ‘Fool’s Gold’ and ‘Drag Me Down’ proving, he can still go back to his ‘platinum blonde’ roots quite effortlessly.