Harry Styles at Birmingham Genting Arena, 7th April 2018
First of all, I have no idea how I am going to write a post that will accurately express in words what I experienced last Saturday. Not to be dramatic, but it was the absolute best night of my entire life, and I’m worried that words on a screen will never be enough to explain that feeling. But I’m going to give it my best shot.
So, last Saturday I got the chance to see my favourite person in the world on the first UK date of his first arena world tour. Excited is obviously an understatement; I’d been waiting for this day since last June. Also, getting to see Harry in my home arena was something that’s so special to me, so the anticipation for the day was extremely high.
My friend Maddie (who I actually met because of Harry, how cute) came to my house on Friday evening and we had planned on going to bed at about 9pm because we were having a really early start, but we ended up going about two hours later than that! Not that I could sleep, anyway, I was way too excited for that. We knew that people had been queuing outside the arena for a while so we planned on getting there at around 7:30am on Saturday (call us crazy).
Surprisingly, when my 5am alarm went off I jumped out of bed much quicker than I used to when the same alarm went off to wake me up for work! We got the first train out of the station where I live (which was completely empty apart from about 3 other people) and arrived at the arena after a bit of a delay on our connecting train at just after 7:30.
We expected there to be around 100 people there when we arrived but we were pleasantly surprised to be numbers 37 and 38 in the queue for our side of the standing pit! Then we had a long, long wait until the doors opened at 5pm that day. It was cold, it rained on and off, we were sat on damp, uncomfortable grass and I’m not going to lie, at times we were questioning our sanity. But the security were AMAZING and organised us all so well, at around 1pm we were allowed to leave for an hour and a half so we went to Nando’s for some well-needed warm food! The time went pretty quickly after that, and when we got inside we were allowed to go to the toilet etc before being let into the standing pits at 6pm.
That was the nerve-wracking part. We got given wristbands from the security and sat on the ground in the corridor, and I was literally shaking because I couldn’t believe this was really happening. The security called us up number by number in 10’s, and then led us single file in our number order into the standing pits. It was SO organised and I cannot thank the staff enough for doing that for us.
Anyway, when we FINALLY got into the standing pit, we managed to get about 3rd/4th row for the main stage and we were second row for the catwalk! I couldn’t believe it; the stage was so close and Harry was going to be right next to us when he went down the catwalk. If you know me, you’ll know I’ve adored Harry for almost 8 years. I fell in love with him when I saw his first X Factor audition as a 15-year-old girl and I literally had to pinch myself multiple times as I stood there trying to comprehend the fact that in a few hours he would be standing about a metre away from me, performing his first UK arena show as a solo artist.
It was a long wait until Harry’s support act, Mabel, came on at 8pm. She was actually really good, and got the crowd hyped even more than we already were! A highlight of her set was when she sang ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay and everyone got their lighters out, it was truly beautiful and almost had me crying before Harry had even come on stage! Luckily, once Mabel had finished we only had half an hour to wait for Harry. His famous cartoon rubik’s cube appeared on the screens about 10 minutes before he came on and the anticipation built and built – it still hadn’t sunk in that he was actually going to be right in front of me.
The screen finally lifted as the iconic opening music to ‘Only Angel’ started playing, and Harry’s silhouette was visible behind the smoke as the beat dropped and I heard his beautiful voice belting out the lyrics. He was wearing a beautiful bright blue suit and he looked INCREDIBLE. I think I was still in shock at this point; he was so close that I could literally see his tattoos popping out of his top, the colour of his eyes and the dimples in his cheek as he smiled at the crowd. It was truly magical to be that close to the person I’ve loved for so many years. I also have to say that ‘Only Angel’ was the perfect song to kick off the show with – it begins with an epic instrumental intro that is hypnotising and angelic and then completely shifts into a full-on rock inspired song as Harry shows off his inner rock star jumping around the stage.
Harry kept up the energetic tempo with ‘Woman’, before grabbing his guitar and showing off his beautiful vocals and musical skills during ‘Ever Since New York’ and ‘Two Ghosts’, two of my favourite songs from his album. One thing I adore about Harry is how much he interacts with the crowd and how much energy he has on stage. He literally radiates happiness and positive vibes, and was constantly thanking us for welcoming him home and cracking jokes with us. It warms my heart to be able to see his beautiful smile so close; being able to witness how happy the cheering crowd and performing makes him and I’m grateful I get to be a part of that. He joked that he only has ten songs and that parents were going to be moaning saying “I came all this way for ten songs?!”, after which he introduced one of his several covers throughout the show.
He launched into the upbeat ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, a One Direction song that got the whole crowd going crazy. I had so much fun dancing around, jumping up and down like crazy and screaming out the lyrics without a care in the world surrounded by people who adored Harry as much as I do. Straight after that, he did another cover of ‘Just A Little Bit of Your Heart’, a song he wrote but he gave to Ariana Grande to sing and record. This is one of my favourite Ariana songs so I was really happy that he decided to cover it and it was a really beautiful moment, it also shows off his flawless vocals. You can find a video of it on my Instagram @clare.lxuise!
Even though, as Harry himself pointed out, he only has ten songs on his album, he performed two songs that he hasn’t released or included on the album. The first of these is called ‘Medicine’ and it got the crowd going absolutely insane. I’d seen people’s reactions to the songs all over twitter but I had decided that I wouldn’t listen to them until I heard them live and it was honestly an amazing decision even though I couldn’t sing along much! ‘Medicine’ is such an upbeat song and you could see Harry really enjoys performing it (as he does with every song, to be fair), he was prancing around the stage, interacting and giving cheeky looks to people in the crowd. The second unreleased song was ‘Anna’, which is my personal favourite and it’s so catchy, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since I heard it! Both of these songs definitely deserved to be on the album, so Harry you know what to do…
After ‘Meet Me in the Hallway’, Harry made his way down the catwalk. He literally just walks along the ground, only separated from us by a barrier so I was extremely close to him! It’s really cute to watch him go down because he holds people’s hands and gives them high-fives as he does and he’s constantly smiling at fans – you can tell that being close to us makes him really happy and that warms my heart. Unfortunately we were just a bit too far away to be able to reach out our hands but seeing all the people in front of me get to touch him made me so happy – seeing their reactions was priceless.
Because we were right at the front of the main stage, we unfortunately couldn’t see Harry at all when he went to the B stage. He sang ‘Sweet Creature’ there, and another One Direction cover of ‘If I Could Fly’, one of my absolute favourite songs from their last album. This song makes me emotional every time I listen to it so I knew I was going to either cry or be on the verge of tears when I heard Harry sing it live. I wasn’t wrong. A fan had organised a project before the show for us all to put coloured pieces of paper over our phone flashlights to make a rainbow during this song and it sort of worked! The arena looked beautiful, and as I held my phone up in the air, swaying to the song and hearing Harry’s angelic voice belting out the lyrics, I couldn’t help but sob my eyes out. I think it was mostly because I couldn’t actually believe I was there, in my home arena, so close to the love of my life. Everything just overwhelmed me and the beauty of the moment made tears roll down my cheeks so fast. At one point I literally just stood there with my hands over my eyes sobbing, I must’ve looked like such a mess! But it’s pretty amazing that simply hearing a song in a room full of people and the person you adore most in the world can reduce you to tears.
Harry then came back to the main stage and sang ‘Anna’, then he did his third One Direction cover, the song that started it all – ‘What Makes You Beautiful’. Harry puts his own, rockier twist on it when he sings it and he, and the crowd, just went absolutely insane as he performed it. As I’ve mentioned before, Harry’s energy onstage is infectious. It makes me so proud to see him jumping around, dancing, waving rainbow pride flags and expressing himself after seeing him struggle with self-confidence when One Direction were first starting out. He really is such a source of positivity and light, he oozes charisma and energy and watching him makes me so happy and proud, no matter how cringey it sounds.
The final song before the encore was the epic ‘Sign of the Times’. This song means so much to me, and it was even more special that the show fell on the one year anniversary of its release. Harry made a cute reference to this, thanking us for all our support since then. When I first heard ‘Sign of the Times’, it made me so emotional. Last year anxiety was at a peak for me, I was feeling so anxious almost all the time and so when I heard Harry sing the words ‘stop your crying baby, it’ll be alright’ it spoke right to my soul. That song has helped me through so much, it’s comforted me when I’ve felt nervous or upset and so to hear Harry sing it right in front of me, in my home arena, a year since I first heard it, made me extremely emotional. Yep, you guessed it, I sobbed my little heart out. I just couldn’t help myself. All the emotion came over me and I realised how far I’ve come and how Harry has been a part of that (cringe I know, but true) and I just couldn’t stop the tears falling down my cheeks. I couldn’t even sing along properly because the lump in my throat was so massive. As Harry walked off stage I was literally a sodden, sniffing mess.
After I’d pulled myself together (sort of) Harry came back for the encore. He sang the sombre yet beautiful ‘From the Dining Table’ which again showed off his vocals and his vulnerable side, and then the final intense few minutes started. Harry belted out a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’, and as the iconic riff began he shouted that he only had five more minutes with us and that he wanted us all to go crazy, dance and sing for the last five minutes. I’ve got to say, I did just that. I was jumping, dancing, screaming, and having the absolute time of my life. He finished the show with the legendary ‘Kiwi’, a song that you literally can’t stand still while listening to. Harry’s rock star side came out in full force during this song – he was punching the air, running around the stage, throwing his water over the crowd and dancing like crazy. It was such a perfect song to end on because it kept up the insane energy right until the very last moment and left us all on such a high.
Getting up at 5am may have been crazy, but it was worth it. I cannot express how grateful I am to have been so close to my favourite person in the entire world and to have had that experience. To be so close that I could see all his features, see the smile on his face when he heard the crowd screaming the lyrics along with him, watch him interact with people and just witness his energy and positivity is something I will remember forever. It still feels so surreal, and it’s taken me this long to be able to even attempt to put it into words. Nothing will ever be able to fully express how much that night meant to me and the feeling I got when I was in that arena, being squished in between other people who love Harry as much as I do. No words can express fully how at home Harry makes me feel, but I have tried and I hope I have at least given a taste of what the experience was like for me.
Have you been to Harry’s tour or are you planning on going to future shows? Tell me about your highlights or let me know what you thought of this post, I would love to hear from you!
As always thank you so much for reading, x