Harry Styles’s Love On Tour: More than Just Fifteen Nights

Heather Sheridan, Viewpoints Editor

It is dusk on August 20th, 2022. Hordes of exuberant young adults are tumbling off the subway and storming up the front steps of Madison Square Garden, covered head to toe in glitter and pink fabric. After an hour of screaming and crying, they leave with mascara on their cheeks and sweat-stained boas hanging from their shoulders. In the background, posters plastered to the walls of the stadium declare, Madison Square Garden is Harry’s House. The merch booths can hardly keep up.

On this fated night in the middle of August, Harry Styles’s Love On Tour is making its first stop at Madison Square Garden, New York City. It is the first of fifteen shows he is set to play in the coming weeks at what has been dubbed, “the world’s most famous arena,” fit to house a mere 20,789 people. What is more impressive is that all fifteen shows are completely sold out, totalling to a crowd of over 311,000 people coming to see him perform from around the world. Lucky for me, I was a small part of the 20,000-odd group that overwhelmed the bag-checking security that first night. Suffice it to say, it was not at all what I’d expected.

Whatever preconception you have about how die-hard Styles’s fanbase is, multiply it by ten. The crowd I was swept up in that first night was overjoyed, incredulous, and hysteric (as well as lovesick, in a strange way). Their energy literally shook the ground I stood on, and one teenager in a giant foam watermelon costume (an homage to Styles’s hit Watermelon Sugar) knocked over my $6 water cup. During the entire concert, not one person sat down besides my two fifty-year old parents, and, by the end, I was shaking out my feet, sore from jumping and stomping along. I’m still not sure how the people doing a conga line in the pit survived.

I admired the way they all came out and came together to have fun and enjoy being in the same room as their idol. Screaming the lyrics to my own favorite Harry’s House songs gave me a small sense of what kind of catharsis everyone around me was feeling. So, I can’t blame them, even if I couldn’t hear Harry’s voice over their cheers.

But I couldn’t relate to their fascination, as I myself am not a big Harry Styles fan. I like One Direction just as much as the next person, and I cycle through different Harry’s House tracks on my  playlists. However, I don’t spend months crocheting cardigans in the style of one he wore a year ago so I can wear it to his concert (ahem, my sister). For this reason, I found myself wondering why everyone around me was crying at the end of every song.

He danced around, he crooned into the mic. He brought out horn players. But he didn’t really wow me.

Where was the great, commanding showman he was supposed to be? Where was the dazzling feather boa, the sequins, the crazy vocals, the costume changes? All he did was walk around the stage and make the audience sing the notes he couldn’t reach.

However, this is coming from a non-Harry (Harries being Styles’s fanbase’s name). I know various people who would quite literally pay arms and legs to see him perform live. Did they feel the same way as I did?

“Everyone there is such a community,” One Wantagh High School student, Rachel, says. She saw him perform three times: August 19th, August 28th, and September 1st. “[E]veryone is just so nice to each other and I feel like a lot of that comes from the way he performs and presents himself.” On his actual performance, she notes, “I was definitely impressed by his vocals. Because of the styles of his songs you wouldn’t expect how little autotune he uses, but in real life he actually sounds just like the recordings.”

On this, I would disagree. His voice was smooth, but he did not reach the notes that I was hoping to hear. There was no “Cinema” in Cinema during opening night. He sang a lower part of the Golden chorus.

My sister, Breanna, who saw him in both the first MSG show and his previous leg last October, regards that, “At first, I was too starstruck to notice, but he did have more note changes last time.” 

Despite this, Love On Tour was a concert experience like no other, but not because of Harry. It was not his performance that wowed me, nor was it his high notes. Rather, it was the people; the diehard, the loving, and the perhaps-a-bit-insane. What Harry Styles is best at is bringing people together, and this is a hill both I and the Harries will die on.

“It felt like everybody knew everybody, like one big friend group,” Breanna remarks.“I never felt more at home.”