Concert review: Harry Styles’ triumphant return to National Stadium

Singer Harry Styles played Cupid at his Singapore gig and helped a fan propose to his girlfriend. PHOTO: SHANE NICOLE/YOUTUBE

Harry Styles: Love On Tour 2023 - Singapore

National Stadium
Last Friday

The last time British pop star Harry Styles performed at the National Stadium, one of Singapore’s largest concert venues, it was eight years ago as a member of boy band One Direction.

This time, the 29-year-old made a triumphant return to the same venue – as a solo act.

Styles, fresh from a Grammy win for Album of the Year for 2022 release Harry’s House, played to the gallery. But he also came across as a performer who not only wanted the fans to be entertained, but also went out of his way to make the 32,000-strong audience feel like they were seen and heard.

The concert was his biggest solo show in Singapore to date. He had performed at the Singapore Indoor Stadium to 6,000 fans in 2018 and at The Star Theatre to 5,000 fans in 2017.

When he was not thanking them after every other song, he was checking in on their well-being. When he singled out members of the audience, he would ask for their names and made sure he pronounced the non-English ones properly.

He read out the handmade signs, picked up the assortment of hats, flags and other items they threw on stage, and proudly held up a portrait of him drawn by a young fan before folding it carefully and sticking it into his back pocket.

And he gleefully handed the spotlight over to a male fan who proposed to his girlfriend, much to the delight of everyone.

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“What am I supposed to do now? You’ve stolen my thunder,” he joked, before wishing the newly engaged couple “a life of happiness”.

When he sang gospel-tinged soul pop tune Treat People With Kindness, it felt like a mantra.

Many in the mostly Gen Z and millennial crowd were dressed to the nines in feather boas and glitter. “Feel free to be whoever it is you always want to be,” the singer told them.

Styles was dressed in a fitted, collared top with glittery stripes and shiny black pants, his face fashionably scruffy.

He seemed a little hesitant when he first came on stage with show opener Music For A Sushi Restaurant.

It took him a few songs to warm up and once he found his stride, his energy level seemed to increase.

Towards the end of the 95-minute show, Styles still had enough juice to execute rapid high kicks together with his brilliant backing band’s percussionist.

As a showman, Styles comes across as a diligent student of iconic British rock frontmen such as Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones and Freddie Mercury of Queen.

In fact, he even borrowed Mercury’s famous audience call-and-response routine.

As expected, the set list was heavy on songs from Harry’s House, including big hit and crowd favourite As It Was. Funky bop Watermelon Sugar from second album Fine Line (2019), too, elicited a massive sing-along while rock ballad Sign Of The Times from his eponymous 2017 debut album featured some of the night’s best vocals.

He took a break from all the joyous dancing when he tenderly sang acoustic numbers Matilda and Little Freak.

In a nod to his beginnings, Styles sang One Direction hit What Makes You Beautiful (2011).

He did not have to share the singing duties with his bandmates like he did at the National Stadium back in 2015. No matter, Styles is more than capable of commandeering an arena crowd on his own.

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