One of the world’s biggest bands are in town and Noise 11 sent a reluctant Anthony Barton along for the ride.
When I was asked to review One Direction I couldn’t really fathom how I could possibly give them a good review. I am not a fan of their music at all and the only one I know the name of is Harry (I’m not sure why this is). There was a certain amount of trepidation with how I would approach this review until my boss articulated that One Direction were somewhat of a ‘gateway-drug’ to better music for many of these kids. We all had our entry-level band we loved as a kid but we have since decided that they were uncool, or a guilty pleasure. For example, and I hate to admit this, but the artists that got me into music (apart from my parent’s music) were Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men and New Kids On The Block. Two of these acts I could never listen to again and the other is New Kids On The Block… my guilty pleasure.
So it was with this mindset that I approached this review. Acknowledging completely that this wasn’t a concert for me, but one that could still excite me because Rod Laver Arena was full of kids who would one day get into ‘cooler’ music and, in turn, shape the future of the industry. In a time of uncertainty in the music industry, we need kids to be excited about purchasing music, and excited was an understatement tonight.
As I entered Rod Laver Arena, I was hit with a stifling waft of air with the distinct scent of One Direction’s ‘Our Moment’ fragrance. Arriving halfway through the support act 5 Seconds Of Summer’s set, the screaming had already begun. 5SOS are a more punk-like version of 1D, that play their own instruments. I was suitably impressed and the crowd seemed to know the words to their songs, even if I had never heard of the band. These guys were quite talented and got the ear-piercing screams off to a good start even before 1D came on stage.
I caught the name of one of their songs ‘Heartbreak Girl’, which was good for what it was, but you could tell the band were loving every second of it, as were the crowd. When they covered Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’, it was time to put my earplugs in. Not because the music was bad, but because the screams just about made my ears bleed.
Now, before I go on about 1D, I would like to discuss the break between the two bands. As many of you know, they tend to play music in between bands. Most of us will just sick back quietly, possibly tapping the beat on our legs or maybe quietly singing along. Not the One Direction crowd. The tweens were up dancing every move to Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’, weirdly doing the ‘Macarena’ to ‘I Like To Move It’ by Reel To Real and then when Los Del Rios’ ‘Macarena’ actually came on, they did the ‘Macarena’ again. It was a surreal experience but comforting knowing that these kids knew about music that was more my generation than theirs.
As the anticipation began to build for One Direction, girl’s faces were turning red trying to hold in the screams, there were many tears, and upon the lights drawing a pre-recorded video of the 1D boys at a party began, and the crowd exploded with the power of 15,000 screaming Sirens like those from Greek Mythology. Luckily I had my earplugs in or my head may have exploded.
They opened with ‘Up All Night’, the title track from their first album and one of very few songs that I knew. The stage setup was pretty incredible with huge 3D projections constantly changing the shape and look of the backdrop, from cityscapes, to pop art and retro video games like Space Invaders. The visuals definitely appealed more to my tastes than the music did.
The first major ballad of the night was dedicated to Liam’s grandfather who passed away while the boys were on tour and his funeral happened to coincide with their first Melbourne show. This was a moment when I realised that the 1D boys are actually quite talented and the emotion on Liam’s face was moving and actually made me feel sorry for him.
It must be difficult being one of the 1D lads. They seem to get worked pretty hard with touring, recording and the like. This became apparent when the boys got closer to where I was seated via a floating platform that carried them to a small stage towards the back of the arena. I could see how tired they all looked and this was more evident while watching Harry chow down on some stir fried noodles while on stage. I can honestly say that I have never, in my years of gig going, seen someone so desperate for a feed.
Slave labour issues aside, it was refreshing to see a boy band without choreographed dance moves, elaborate costume changes (apart from them donning Hawks jumpers during the encore) and performing without miming. Instead the show was filled with the group’s laidback and silly antics, hilarious impromptu dance moves and strange banter between songs that went from the guys interviewing each other, to a section where they read out ‘Tweets’ from the crowd. This was unlike any concert I have ever been to.
Obviously, One Direction played all of their hits including ‘Live While You’re Young’, ‘One Thing’ and finished with ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ and these garnered the biggest response from the crowd. This was also the grand total of 1D songs I knew, the other two tracks I recognised were covers of Blondie’s ‘One Way Or Another’ and Wheatus’ ‘Teenage Dirtbag’. But, in a set list that spanned 22 tracks and finished well after everyone’s bedtime, it was clear that the crowd could still handle more.
So what did I take out of the gig? Young girls are loud! I can’t quite understand the mindset of screaming at bands rather than listening to them. Taking my earplugs in was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Also, people brought signs! I can’t say I’ve seen a sign at a gig since Michael Jackson played at the MCG in 1996. Today, signs have become more elaborate than in my day, they are now fitted with LED lights and flash like crazy. A girl in front of me had a sign that read “Kiss Me, I’m LEGAL” but upon taking a look at her face, she was definitely not “legal” by any stretch of the word. False advertising.
But, my absolute highlight was before I had even entered the event. As I walked up to Rod Laver Arena there were a group of girls in a circle all doing a hands in “1, 2, 3 1D BITCHES!” It was this level of unhinged abandon that reminded me how good it was to truly love an artist, something we forget about as we grow older and fall into musical snobbery.
To conclude my thoughts on the event as I began, although One Direction’s music may not be for you or me, it’s hard to fault their talent and success. No one listens to the music they begin with and will almost always move on to cooler music and start going to festivals and exploring their musical tastes. It is good to have an inoffensive band like 1D to introduce and sell music to a younger generation who have not experienced the purchasing of music previously. As much as I hate to admit it, One Direction are good for the future of the music industry and I quite enjoyed the experience of the event, even if the music wasn’t to my tastes.
Photos by Ros O’Gorman
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