Harry Styles with Kacey Musgraves at Rogers Arena, 7/6/18
Last night (July 6), Harry Styles showed a deafening crowd at Rogers Arena how he became the most successful member of One Direction not named Zayn Malik.
Before he did so, opener Kacey Musgraves showed the talent that has taken her so far from her hometown of Golden, Texas. She has performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, opened for Katy Perry, and collaborated with Brian Wilson and Miguel. Never mind these recent accomplishments: She won two Grammys with her 2013 debut, Same Trailer Different Park, for Best Country Song (“Merry Go ‘Round”) and Best Country Album.
Like many country artists before her, though, Musgraves has moved closer and closer to pop. But she’s still country at her core. Banjo and pedal steel anchored her soaring, self-dubbed “space country” composed of disco beats, synthesizers, and vocoders. During more grounded songs like “Wonder Woman” and “Lonely Weekend” and the waltzy, starry-eyed “Butterflies,” she carried herself like she rightfully belonged to a country pop lineage that runs from Shania Twain to Taylor Swift.
When the lights went down for Harry Styles, the cheers became deafening. When the concave video screen that spanned the stage ascended towards the ceiling during “Only Angel,” revealing Styles in the flesh, the cheers became crushing. His all-ages fans continued roaring after each time he finished a sentence and before and after each song. They went mad for a simple, well-placed “Ow!” in the middle of One Direction’s “Stockholm Syndrome.”
Stylesmania ran wild inside Rogers Arena, and he wore his classic rock influences loudly and proudly – and literally. Dressed in a silver and black sparkling shirt, unbuttoned at the chest and flared at the forearms, with black flared pants to match, he possessed a virile Jagger swagger.
The band, for their part – Sarah Jones on drums, Adam Prendergast on bass, Mitchell Rowland on guitar, and Clare Uchima on keys – had enough chops and licks to keep up with Styles, especially on “Woman” and the cowbell-knocking “Only Angel.”
During “Meet Me in the Hallway,” Styles marched onto a mini-platform on the opposite side of the arena, an area usually reserved as the A/V command centre. There, he performed “Sweet Creature” and One Direction’s “If I Could Fly,” proving that arena musicians are legally required to play at least two acoustic songs from the middle or back of the venue. Suspension from the ceiling is optional.
Styles acknowledged that he only had 10 songs but reassured fans that they didn’t have to worry. He padded his set with another One Direction favourite, “What Makes You Beautiful,” which Uchima illuminated with her bright keys as he twirled a Canadian and Pride flag. He covered Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” a full-fledged, bluesy mudhole-stomper in his hands, and Ariana Grande’s “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart,” which he wrote. He also treated fans to two new songs, “Medicine” and “Anna.”
Styles closed with the piano ballad “Sign of the Times” and an encore that featured the whimsical “From the Dining Table,” “The Chain,” and “Kiwi,” a smoldering slab of hard rock through and through.
Last year, Harry Styles told Rolling Stone he wouldn’t rule out a One Direction reunion. “That band changed my life, gave me everything,” he said. But considering the height he has reached in the short time since they went on hiatus in 2016, to reference another Fleetwood Mac song, he can go his own way. He doesn’t need the band any time soon.