The megastar brought Love On Tour back to Wembley Stadium for a party like no other
The pool of artists who can fill stadiums with fans who know every single word of their lyrics is small. Harry Styles can fill Wembley Stadium with fans who know every single word of lyrics to songs he hasn’t even released yet. When he breaks into ‘Medicine’ in his encore, a scrapped track from his debut album that fans have heard live but never on streaming, a roar goes up from across Wembley Stadium. Tens of thousands of voices scream along.
“Honey,” Styles calls out when he first appears onstage, “I’m home.” Let’s not kid ourselves here – he could say those words at any stadium in any country and get a reception warm enough to make them true. Still, there’s something special about seeing Styles back in London, the city he’s made a base for thirteen years, that he praises frequently throughout his set for adopting him and taking him under its wing. “Are we all feeling emotionally stable?” he asks the crowd. There’s a resounding chorus of “NO.” Styles grins. “Okay. Perfect.”
Love On Tour is a joyful place. This has been well-documented on social media over the last two years – videos of fans dancing in conga lines across the floor, Pride flags waving over crowds and feather boas shedding multicoloured plumage have been hard to avoid. Still, it’s hard to fully appreciate what Styles has created until you’re actually there with him. “Please feel free to be whoever it is you’ve always wanted to be in this room tonight,” he tells us. He grabs cowboy hats and flowers offered to him from the crowd and redistributes them, takes time to read signs and wish fans a happy birthday. Later, a fan asks him to help her come out. Styles turns to his band, asks for a backing track. He takes the lesbian Pride flag offered him.
“When this flag goes above my head, you’re out, sister,” he tells her, parading it over the stage. When he finally lifts it high in the air, a cheer echoing around the stadium, she’s both laughing and crying. Later, when Styles picks up a guitar to play ‘Matilda’, a soft ballad about found family, there are few dry eyes in the place.
It’s easy to be cynical about tours as large as this one. They become something bigger than themselves, especially when they appear all over social media. But the feeling of safety that Styles creates in the room, of warmth, of celebration, of acceptance, is as real and tangible as if he were playing guitar to us on his living room sofa. When he later breaks into a jazzy, funked-up version of ‘What Makes You Beautiful’, his first single with One Direction, the joy in the room reaches new heights. Styles knows his fans. And we’re all right at home.
Photo credits: Lloyd Wakefield