There were ripples of excitement every time someone was near the stage as devoted fans tried to determine if it was the man himself who was about to appear, and given that some fans had camped overnight in Glasgow just to be near the front, you can understand such a feverish expectation. When Styles finally emerged, dressed in a yellow and blue sequined outfit that suggested he was right by the ranch, a howling clamor of hysteria drowned out the bouncy pop of “Music for a Sushi Restaurant.”
The 28-year-old is no stranger to such reactions, but even he seemed surprised, and he felt like he got used to his surroundings early on, save for the occasional meandering around the ramps that went from the main stage to the crowd. Surprisingly, this staging was one of the few concessions to the stadium decor. If Styles’ three-album solo career saw the evolution from boy band survivor to serious entertainer, then this gig confirmed it, with no costume changes and no gimmicks. Instead, there was simply a singer and band, for whom drummer Sarah Jones’ heavyweight play firmly anchored proceedings, with half the set taken from this year’s edition. Harry’s house Release.
As if to underline these references, a segment also featured Styles the troubadour, acoustic guitar in hand and devoid of stage dynamics, with a soft and touching “Matilda” and a soft and swaying “Boyfriends” providing a stripped-back calm that worked better than expected. in such a vast context.
Yet deep down, Styles remains a big and bold pop artist of the genre, with a solid selection of summery material to dive into, both at the start and end of the 90-minute set. The “oooh-ooohs” of “Golden” and the breeze of “Daylight” were quicksilver tunes that floated through the air as easily as the fluttering plumage of the multitude of pink feather boas carried in the crowd. However, the likes of “Keep Driving” and “Satellite” were almost too light, constructed quite well but in a way befitting an AI program trying to create pop music. They passed easily but forgetfully, a reminder that not all Styles tracks have much to say.
Styles’ first conversation also had a somewhat robotic feel to it. There were various polite platitudes and a happy birthday sung for a fan in the front row, but the signs of actual personality were often obscured until the music picked up and he could move, pushing his body aside or pumping with excitable energy. It was there that he seemed in control, and the gig grew stronger as confidence grew, whether it was a driving “Lights Up” with abandon or the gig’s sole concession to his former group, a heartbreaking “What Makes”. You beautiful”.
It was pop music writ large, and for all that Styles is still coming to terms with, it was hard to resist a steady procession of beefy big hits towards the end of the gig. “Love of My Life” aimed for emotion on the big screen and landed it, a skyscraper-sized “Sign of the Times” found a natural home in such a vast environment, and “Watermelon Sugar ‘ and ‘As It Was’ delivered happy pop bops for the masses with rhythm and charm. By then, Styles was spraying water on fans and slamming through the rowdy rock finale of “Kiwi” with enough visceral flair to suggest he could be staying in those stadiums for a while longer.