Belfast Telegraph

Review: One Direction forgiven as Belfast devotees glimpse their heroes at last

By Andrew Johnston

It was take two for One Direction in Belfast last night, following Tuesday's controversial show cancellation - the first in the boyband's career.

And as the foursome's 8.30pm stage time approached, a sold-out SSE Arena held its breath.

Would the beleaguered pop superstars appear on cue, or would a grey-haired fall guy in a suit stride out and deliver bad news for a second night running?

To the audible relief of around 10,000 screaming fans, Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and an evidently fully recovered Liam Payne hit the stage only a few minutes late.

Low-tempo stomper Clouds was a bit of a lacklustre opener, but in truth, everyone just seemed relieved their heroes hadn't rung in sick again.

Tomlinson was the first to address the crowd, but if anyone was expecting an apology or even an explanation for Tuesday's shenanigans, they were out of luck.

Instead, it was a standard offering of thanks to everyone for coming to the gig.

After an upbeat rendition of Kiss You, it was Styles's turn at the mic, and he stuck to delivering the group's basic philosophy: "Our job is to entertain you as much as we can.

"Your job is to have fun as much as you can."

Next, the sugary ballad Fireproof showcased the quartet's vocal skills - such as they are - with the harmonies mostly staying on point.

But despite the hysterical response of the audience, there was something underwhelming about it all.

The band members seemed to be going through the motions, and even appeared bored at times.

With their tattoos, tans and long hair, their grown-up look was at odds with the undeniably juvenile material.

And once you're nearing the end of an 80-date world tour during which you're playing to tens of thousands of people each night, perhaps even this level of success gets a bit routine.

Another problem could be they're simply not very good.

Certainly, Styles's lead vocal on Midnight Memories - which is still a rip-off of Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar on Me - was all over the place.

There was also very little interaction between them, adding weight to rumours of a behind-the-scenes rift.

Eventually, Payne did address his mystery illness, and he seemed genuine enough in his appreciation for everyone's well wishes.

Horan, too, came across as an amiable sort, whether having a crack at the Northern Ireland accent or bemoaning a foot injury preventing him from taking advantage of our golf courses.

But if you compare One Direction's perfunctory performance last night with the joie de vivre of a McBusted or the old-school professionalism of a Take That, it's astounding they're the biggest boyband in the world. Still, at least the biggest boyband in the world finally made it to Belfast.

Three stars

Belfast Telegraph


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