Up All Night
Tuesday night at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT, One Direction kicked off their first headlining U.S. tour, Up All Night. The resort was already buzzing at 2 p.m. with fans in 1D tee shirts clutching signs professing their love for the group. In other words, it was boy band mania.
By 7:30 p.m., the arena was packed and the screaming was intense even before the first opening act took the stage. It was a surprising pick, a 12-year-old named Camryn, who was pretty awful. Apparently, her father is a billionaire film producer. Enough said.
The second opening act, Manika, was no better, I’m afraid -- a sort of Disney channel knock-off, complete with tutu and purple sneakers. The performance’s only redeeming quality was the guy spinning records on stage for her. And it was a relief when she finally screamed her thank you’s and good-byes.
When it was finally time for the main event, the energy and excitement was palpable, as if the very air itself was pulsing with giddiness. A video of the guys began to play on the massive screens and then the real thing appeared on the stage all dressed in red, white and blue, every bit the J. Crew ad. You would have to be the Grinch to not see the charm.
The whole lot of them -- Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson -- are as wholesome as they come. Think Beach Boys meets the Beatles meets The New Kids on the Block. They opened with "Stand Up," which everyone did from the minute the lights went down. From that point on, everyone in the arena seemed to be singing every word to every song.
Even if you didn’t come to the show a fan, the admiration was downright contagious. And they couldn’t have been more gracious, thanking the crowd again and again for supporting them, for buying their CDs and being there. The group must have said, "Thank you. You’re the reason we’re here," at least a dozen times.
They went on to play "I Wish," "Torn," "Moments," "Gotta Be You," "More Than This," "Up All Night," "Tell Me a Lie," "Everything About You," "One Thing" and "Save You Tonight." They also threw in a medley of pop tunes, including "I Got a Feeling" and "Stereo Hearts." They closed with "What Makes You Beautiful" and then did "I Want" as an encore.
They were sweet and cute and harmonized the heck out of every song. The concert was themed around the seasons with videos playing between each set while the guys went backstage to change -- fooling around at the beach, riding bikes with wicker baskets across a college green, and goofing off in a cabin in the snow in flannel pajamas, cozy sweaters and snowboard gear.
Onstage, their outfits matched the seasons as well -- from their opening red, white and blue to their super preppy burgundy and grey outfits to scarves and hoodies. For the latter set, snow fell from the top of the arena and the guys threw "snowballs" out into the crowd.
"You are the biggest audience we’ve ever had," they told the crowd. "You guys are absolutely incredible and we owe you absolutely everything. Everything we are we owe to you. I want to thank each and very one of you for being so amazing."
In the middle of the show, the guys stopped to show on the giant screens some of the things audience members were Tweeting during the performance.
"Can u show us your American accents?"
"Fresh Prince rap? Doo iiiit."
"Can you do the Inbetweeners dance?"
"Play instruments with the band."
At one point in the show, while the rest of the group was backstage changing clothes, the stage crew brought out turntables and Zayn, who the group affectionately referred to as Dj Malik, played DJ for a few minutes, which took the screaming and dancing crowd up another notch, even though seconds before that didn’t even seem possible.
Every generation has their boy band and One Direction is definitely this generation’s. And I can’t say it’s a bad thing. They’re talented, easy on the eyes, and their songs don’t have to be bleeped for radio play. They may be a product of X Factor and Simon Cowell, but these guys put on a great show.
Before their encore, the video screens displayed a message. "You are invited to join us for a celebration dinner here tonight. Would you like to attend?" Then, the invitation was replaced by chandeliers and the guys took the stage in black and white suits and tuxes. "We have one question and one question only -- Did you have a good time?"
The answer was a resounding "yes" all around.
One Direction’s national tour will hit arenas in New York, New Jersey, Detroit, San Diego, Oakland, Dallas, and Florida. For more info, visit http://www.onedirectionmusic.com/gb/home/. For tickets, visit Stub Hub