Harry Styles is a pop star people will talk about for generations. Over the course of three albums and two packed-out world tours, he’s topped the charts and found a home in the hearts of audiences seemingly everywhere he goes. He’s sold out venues around the world, some several times over, and is one of just three musical artists to have a permanent banner hanging in the rafters at Madison Square Garden. He’s broken records, won Grammys, and near-single-handedly revived the feather boa industry – and the list goes on.
When he takes to the stage at Wembley Stadium for the first of four sold-out shows there, the venue erupts into celebration. But tonight isn’t about an artist at the top of their game appearing in front of an adoring audience of thousands (though that also happens to be true). Harry’s show is, as it always has been, a celebration of love, connection, and absolute bangers.
In the city that’s been his base for 13 years, in a venue just down the road from where One Direction first formed, seeing him perform feels especially momentous. “Honey, I’m home!” he sing-songs as he settles centre-stage, his own gleeful way of letting the audience know that not only is he exactly where he belongs in this moment, so are they. This place is a safe space, where – as he requests of the crowd at every show he performs – you can “feel free to be whoever it is you’ve always wanted to be.”
His fans welcome that invitation and run with it. There’s sequins and glitter a-plenty, feathers and rhinestones galore. Giant fruit costumes? There’s so many. It’s emboldened, it’s expressive, and it’s full of joy – and really, isn’t that what live music is all about?
From the moment he first bounds across the stage to the swaggering melodies of ‘Daydreaming’, almost falling onto a podium elevating one of his bandmates in the process, Harry holds the 90,000-strong audience in the palm of his hand. “Okay,” he beams sunnily in response to their sung-along request to ‘Adore You’, “but just tonight.”
For two hours, he treats his audience to a career-spanning set that leaves no era forgotten. ‘Little Freak’ and ‘Matilda’ are made heart-achingly tender in front of a crowd, while ‘Music For A Sushi Restaurant’ becomes a literal jamboree. Teasing the chorus of One Direction’s ‘Best Song Ever’ before launching into ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ prompts an all-out dance party that feels practically euphoric, and a moment of stillness as he drinks in the sight of fireworks exploding during ‘Sign Of The Times’ is enough to have the whole venue swooning where they stand.
Strutting across the stage as he gives ‘Medicine’ an irregular outing (sir, we thank you for your service) before holding out his microphone as the crowd sing along to every word of the unreleased fan favourite, Harry is a godlike figure in custom Gucci, commanding and exalting his audience every step of the way.
He treats them with the same reverence as they treat him. Pausing between songs to check in, asking “are we all feeling emotionally stable?” he takes it in stride when the answer is an emphatic “NO!” After a shower of flowers is thrown towards the stage during ‘Grapejuice’, before he leaves, he shares his flowers out among the crowd. “I know how important it is to be here tonight, what it means to me to be here tonight,” he tells the room in a moment of unguarded sincerity. “It makes it feel like it’s supposed to be something all unto itself.”
“It gets really scary that it might never live up to what I think it’s gonna be,” he continues, expressing gratitude to his band, his crew, the staff, the room, every person in front of and behind him. “I want to thank you, because every single time I come here you give me these memories that I know I’m gonna be thinking about for the rest of my life.”
He’s not the only one that’ll carry tonight with them. Gathering at the edge of the arena to practice the boot scoot dance routine between bands, joining up in a conga line during ‘Treat People With Kindness’, swaying arm-in-arm with friends and strangers during ‘Matilda’, lying down to look at the stars during ‘Fine Line’, his fans jump heart first into every moment not just with him, but with each other.
Together, they make this surreal, sensational experience feel like home. This isn’t just Harry’s show; it’s everyone’s.