On June 15 British rocker and former One Direction member Harry Styles checked in to the Wells Fargo Center promising an electrifying and entertaining evening. He brought along with him a sensational opening act in the form of country star Kacey Musgraves. Musgraves kicked things off promptly at 8 o’clock beginning her set with a few songs from her album “Golden Hour,” which was released earlier this year. Adorned in a sparkly dark green two-piece jumpsuit, Musgraves’ delightful presence on stage combined with her upbeat style of country music was just the right mix to get the crowd up and in the mood to party. The Texas native dazzled the audience with a few of her own songs, including “Butterflies,” as well as her own lively rendition of the Gnarls Barkley hit, “Crazy.”
Not long after Musgraves finished, the large black screen that had been above her head lowered to completely cover the stage from the audience’s view and every girl in the place began to scream when an animation of headliner Harry Styles attempting to solve a rubix cube suddenly appeared. The whole stadium seemed to hold its collective breath as a cartoon Styles fussed with the rubix cube until, when it was finally solved, all the lights in the stadium went out and every screen was dark.
And with that, Styles began his first show in Philadelphia since his departure from One Direction by making an incredible entrance only a performer of his beloved reputation and stature could. As the sounds of the heavenly choir from the beginning of “Only Angel,” the fifth track from Styles’ self-titled album, rang through the air the large black screen began to rise to its original position revealing Styles standing center stage, surrounded by billowing smoke. His sudden appearance, the smoke, the brightly colored lights, and the music were expertly paired to create a chill-inducing spectacle.
Styles, known on this tour for his eclectic fashion taste and large variety of suits, chose a simple white suit jacket over top of a black poet blouse paired with tailored black dress pants. This choice is far from anything the singer would have been found in during his days in One Direction, adding a certain air of sophistication compared to his old days of performing. He both honored and poked fun at his boy band days by recreating a few of his iconic jokes from past shows – and even played a more subdued version of “What Makes You Beautiful,” the 2011 pop hit that skyrocketed he and his former bandmates Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, and Zayn Malik, to fame. He also played a few more fan favorites from his 1D days, which was fitting considering he could not have gotten where he is now without them.
He and his band played every song from his first self-titled solo album, including hit singles, “Sign of the Times,” “Kiwi,” and “Two Ghosts.” Styles also performed a song he wrote for Ariana Grande in 2014 called “Just A Little Bit of Your Heart,” and the Fleetwood Mac hit, “The Chain,” from their “Rumors,” album. Every single song of the night was a brilliant display of color and showmanship that breathed life into the audience and made it nearly impossible for anyone not to be on their feet the entire time. Even when he transitioned to the smaller stage at the back of the arena he offered a breathtaking rendition of “If I Could Fly” that had every person in the room swooning.
Styles was an interactive host playfully engaging the crowd and keeping his fans laughing and on their toes. Like any smart artist visiting Philadelphia in recent months, he started by saying hello to the arena and then requested a cheer for Philadelphia’s very own pride and joy: the Eagles. He provided ample witty banter and shows of love and support for his crew, band, and fans. He led the stadium in singing “Happy Birthday” to one fan and goofily congratulated another fan on having sex when he noticed she was pregnant. As any dedicated fan would know, instances like these are to be expected at one of his shows. Not only this particular show, but his entire tour promises an unforgettable welcoming, open, and friendly experience with the tagline, “Treat People With Kindness,” a motto he repeated during the show – and which he noted we could all take a little time to follow. A well known LGBTQ+ advocate, Styles found time within his set to proudly hold up a Pride flag emblazoned with the words “Make America Gay Again,” and he even did his best to help a female fan find her ideal girlfriend within the crowd.
Overall, Styles and his crew put on a truly unforgettable show in Philadelphia. It is abundantly clear that although his days in One Direction will always have a powerful influence on his career Harry Styles has most certainly grown as an artist. He was still the Harry Styles the world knows and loves, but his 1D days far are behind him. That night at the Wells Fargo Center his powerful stage presence confirmed that he was putting everything he had in to this show and that he is a force to be reckoned with. The night was electric, the music was loud, and ladies and gentlemen, let me assure you that Harry Styles still has the power to make thousands of teen-aged girls scream.