Perhaps it was his polite British manner, or the always flirtatious tone of his voice. But never has a thank you note recorded about hiding and presenting the vaccine cards received louder cheers than the one Harry Styles played for fans ahead of his concert Wednesday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Probably more to the messenger than the message, the 18,000 fans in attendance seemed exceptionally grateful for attending the Twin Cities first post-COVID sold-out concert – an anticipation that had taken almost two years to prepare and an admission for which masks required and proof of vaccine or negative test results.
Despite these additional rules, demand for tickets remained high and entry went smoothly. A link sent to ticket holders allowed them to download their pre-show documentation, resulting in a simple quick flash of a phone screen at the gates.
It seemed like a small price to pay for a flash of the 27-year-old singer’s dimpled smile, first seen with his former boy group One Direction a decade ago, and apparently a whole different career a decade ago. any other career. His second album, “Fine Line” – released three months before the lockdown – sealed his reputation as a sophisticated pop artisan. Now it was finally time to see how he had grown up as a showman.
Even with varying footsteps of Tom Jones, early Elton John, ’80s David Bowie, and many other idols, Styles’ unique personality shone on Wednesday: sexy and masculine, but with a feminine touch and messaging. inclusiveness; infallibly polite and affable, but a little arrogant and sarcastic; and in turn playful and serious when needed.
Performing on a sleek, round stage – with long protruding runways and a giant X-shaped video screen above it – he showed off much more than his character as he danced and strutted around the stage in full size. high and wide – pants with legs, with suspenders and a metallic, puffed shirt.
“You’re going to see my rump for half the show,” he warned before a loud scream from the audience at the start of the show, after the light, eye-catching “Golden” and “Carolina” openings. Accentuating the, uh, view were the
He also got cheeky a few songs later, joking, “Just in case there was any confusion: Guns N ‘Roses was last night. It’s not that show, but a very similar show.”
There was really a more rock side to the styles on display, starting with the Stones’ boastful “Only Angel”. His six-piece group – divided by three men and three women – added a Vampire Weekend-like groove to “Sunflower, Vol. 6” and pulled off Sir Elton-y’s rebound in “Woman.” They also helped the singer skillfully pay homage to his former band by delivering a Kool & the Gang-funky version of “What Makes You Beautiful”.
An additional 1D track or two would have been appreciated, but Styles’ second LP provided enough material to fill 90 minutes without any lull, including two ballads that showed his impressive vocal range: “Falling,” delivered on a small stage by push; and “Fine Line”, which closed out the set before an encore with the biggest hits “Sign of the Times” and “Watermelon Sugar”.
Styles introduced “Fine Line” by referring to “the last 18 months we couldn’t all be in this room together”.
“If we all supported each other a little more, I think everything will be fine,” he said. Do you know what I mean by knowing when to be serious?
Something an odd fit in the opening slot, Americana pop-rocker Jenny Lewis – an independent music vet who typically performs on First Avenue – was treated like a true pop star. Fans who are probably unaware of the liquor’s connotation waved their cellphone lights in unison for “Red Bull & Hennessey” and loudly applauded his song dedications to the “tomboys” (“One of the Guys “) and” all the complicated women out there “(” She’s not me “).
Just as the Styles crowd has grown in age, it looks like Lewis will now too.
Here’s the Styles Wednesday setlist:
- “Love you”
- “Alone Angel”
- “Sunflower, Vol. 6”
- “Lights up”
- “Moon Canyon”
- “Treat people with kindness”
- “What makes you beautiful”
- ” Thin line “
- “Sign of the times”
- “Watermelon sugar”
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658