As I walked through the halls of TD Garden, the sound of thousands of voices belting the lyrics of “Bohemian Rhapsody” echoed off the walls. Not even in my seat yet, I was already feeling the buzz of excitement emanating from the arena. I sang along to the voice of Freddie Mercury and passed hordes of people waiting in line for merch or other concert concessions. Feather boas and rhinestones were everywhere. I had finally made it to the Harry Styles concert.
Harry Styles is currently taking “Love on Tour” around the United States with his band: Elin Sandberg and Adam Prendergast playing bass guitar; Niji Adeleye playing piano; Pauli Lovejoy playing percussion; Mitch Rowland playing guitar; Sarah Jones playing drums; and Ny Oh playing piano and backing vocals. The tour was originally announced back in 2019 following the release of Styles’s second studio album as a solo artist, “Fine Line”. However, due to COVID-19 hitting in early 2020, the tour was postponed. Finally, two years later, dedicated fans across the country can hear their favorite songs from “Fine Line” live, as well as throwbacks to his first solo album and his days in the British boyband One Direction, so long as they provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test upon entry.
I lead a busy life, so I was cutting it close getting to the concert. I unfortunately missed the opening act, Jenny Lewis, but I have heard nothing but good things about her from my friends who got to hear her performance. I attended the concert by myself, so once I sat down, I introduced myself to the girls next to me with whom I would be sharing an emotional experience over the next two hours. Since I was already a little late, I didn’t have to wait long for Harry Styles to appear. The second the lights dimmed, the entire arena erupted in shrieks. I think I lost my voice just by screaming with anticipation, let alone singing along to the rest of the concert. He opened with “Golden”, a song with a catchy hook and high energy. The song repeats, “You’re so golden,” a statement everyone directed back at Harry with adoration.
The concert was performed in the round, meaning there was one stage in the center of the arena with audience members on every side of it. There was the main stage in the middle with two smaller stages at each end connected to the main stage by long walkways. Styles did an excellent job distributing the wealth amongst concertgoers; he spent a lot of time on the main stage, but treated the walkways to the end stages like his own personal runway. He strutted with style down to the end stages, shaking and shimmying as he went. His baby blue bell bottoms and bedazzled white shirt flowed around him as he danced, casting sparkles out at the audience under the spotlight.
Harry Styles performed a 14-song main act with an additional three songs for the encore. One highlight was the performance of Styles’s song “She”. The lights went red and Harry crooned out the slow, sensual lyrics of a man in love with a woman who only lives in his head. Mitch Rowland, Styles’ guitarist, absolutely brought the house down with his guitar solo in the middle of this song. He walked to one of the end stages, relishing his time on the long walkway. Everyone in the audience was losing their mind, basking in the solo that could only be described as a labor of love from Rowland.
The show was more than just music. Styles took his time to interact with the crowd, reading aloud signs and making comments about the location. He marveled at just how many schools there are in Boston, reasoning that that must be why there are so many late-night ramen places around here. He interacted with the crowd throughout every song, too, picking up things that fans were throwing on stage and wearing them. For example, during his song “Sunflower Vol. 6”, someone threw a sunflower crown on stage that he put on; yellow, felt petals framed his head and his face made the center of the sunflower.
Once the show was nearing its end, Harry encouraged everyone to dance their hearts out. He played three songs in succession—“Canyon Moon”, “Treat People With Kindness”, and “What Makes You Beautiful”—that were all remixed with the perfect dance beat. The studio version of “Canyon Moon” is a more folksy song; it’s a song that someone would play on an acoustic guitar while sitting around a campfire with their road trip buddies. But that night, he played it over the dance beat to make the perfect soundtrack for moving your body and letting the good vibes flow. It was during “Treat People With Kindness” that Harry picked up the various pride flags that had been thrown on stage throughout the night. With a rainbow flag in each hand, Harry tore down the walkways to the end stages, skipping and spinning and letting the flags fly in the wind as he danced.
After the dance break, he slowed it down for his final song (before the encore), “Fine Line”. He took a moment to show his gratitude to the audience for coming to see his show and for taking the necessary COVID precautions. Then, as he usually does at every single one of his shows, he told the audience that everyone was encouraged to be whoever they truly are while they were in that room. He always takes the time to tell everyone to live their lives as their truest selves since his shows are a safe space for self-expression, and to always remember to treat people with kindness (hence, the song by the same name). “Fine Line” is a song that starts slow and quiet and sad. Harry pleads, “Put a price on emotion / I’m looking for something to buy / You’ve got my devotion / But, man, I can hate you sometimes,” repeating that “we’ll be a fine line” throughout the chorus. However, as the song continues, the sound builds to a crescendo as percussion and horns join the simple guitar chords. “We’ll be a fine line” changes to “we’ll be alright,” as the song takes on a more positive twist. It’s bittersweet, but it reminds us all—in a time when we need it—that when we have each other, we will be alright.