Live Review: One Direction — IZOD Center, New Jersey
Tue, 29 May 2012 09:56:52
Temporarily deaf. That's how I'd describe myself after taking in a sold-out One Direction show at the IZOD Center, a mere 10 minutes outside of New York City on the Friday before Memorial Day (May 25.) I decided to celebrate, good times, come on, to borrow a phrase from Kool & the Gang.
I shoulda have sat in the parents' section, since I was one of the oldest people there, as it was a room full of (mostly) teenage girls in short shorts, wearing homemade and custom-cut "Mrs. Horan" and "Mrs. Styles" t-shirts, accompanied by their moms and dad. Although that's not all-inclusive, as the "drop off" and "pick up" lines outside the venue were miles long!
The Directioners are a dedicated and loud bunch, as some were hoisting Irish flags in honor of member Nial Horan and shrieking "I love you Zayn" so loud that we think Zayn Malik may have heard them!
The show started with newcomer Manika, bounding on the stage in a ballerina dress paired with leggings while battling what felt like some sound problems. It's not exactly an enviable position, being a cute girl opening for a boy band whose fame is utterly massive and whose fanbase is 99.9 percent of the female persuasion. But Manika handled herself beautifully and like a pro, with lots of energy, saying all the right things, like asking the crowd how psyched they were for 1D. Manika performed a few of her own confections, along with a bar of Justin Bieber's "Baby" and Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend." When the world's biggest boy band took the stage, it was louder than bombs and easily one of the best live spectacles I've enjoyed in 2012. Continuing the show's superlative trend, the band also commented that it may have been the biggest show they ever played, acknowledging the hearing ruining decibels.
In addition to playing their own poppy, bouncy, singable anthems and bookending the set with "Na Na Na" and "What Makes You Beautiful," the boys also improvised quite bit, with a seated medley of The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling," Gym Class Heroes "Stereo Hearts," The Zutons' "Valerie" and Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn." Each individual sing stood and walked closer to the edge of the stage during their "solo" or "focus" moment. Even when handling covers, the 1D boys offered up unique and listenable takes. No eye rolling here! But then again, you're dealing with a 1D lover, not a hater.
The uber adorable Harry Styles – love, love, love that mop of curly hair- also announced "Moments," throwing props to the songwriter, fellow Brit Ed Sheeran, referencing his "ginger hair." Oh, those cheeky Brits.
Overall, One Direction owned the crowd. They worked it. They spoke to their fans, as opposed to speaking above them. They put themselves on the same level and make themselves easy to relate to, when you're a 14-year-old, of course.
Once the screaming died down –and that only happened for seconds at a time- it was clear that the boys know how to entertain. They can sing. They can dance. They are cute. They are the complete package. And they inspire some serious passion. I was in awe of Directioners, even if they had me worrying about the future of my hearing! I have attended 2,000 concerts in my lifetime, most of them rock and metal, and I walked away thinking that I could press my ear up against the Marshall stacks at a Slayer show and it would not have been as loud as the crowd at the 1D show. That's really saying something!
While I'm tempted to wink and say, "Simon Cowell, you know what you are doing, you devil," since he put the band together via the U.K. edition of X Factor, it's Zayn and Harry and Nial and Liam (Payne) and Louis (Tomlinson) who exude charisma and have buckets of talent. One Direction wouldn't work and wouldn't be so beloved if they didn't. There's magic in this here band.
You know what they say about the whole and the sum of its parts, right?
1D are here to stay. Now about that ringing in my ears…