The sound of young girls screaming filled the Metro Radio Arena on Sunday, October 25th, 2015, as One Direction performed the first of three shows as part of the Newcastle leg of the “On the Road Again” tour.
Support on the night came from Jamie Lawson, a questionable and unexpected choice of warm-up act. Nevertheless, the 39-year-old, who recently signed to Ed Sheeran’s record label (Gingerbread Man Records), was well received by onlookers, as he sang original songs from his self-titled debut album (including his top 10 hit “Wasn’t Expecting That”) and an almost unrecognisable cover of One Direction’s “More Than This”.
As Jamie Lawson left the stage, there was a sense of anxiety in the 11,000 capacity venue. It was at this point during the Belfast concert a mere four days before that the gig was cancelled due to Liam Payne falling ill. However, any feelings of anxiety were quickly replaced with excitement as Liam, along with Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan burst onto the stage to perform “Clouds”, “Kiss You” and “Fireproof”.
The audience, which was predominantly made up of pre-teen girls (otherwise known as “Directioners”) and their parents, sung along to every word, maintaining the energy and enthusiasm for “Girl Almighty” and “Midnight Memories”. Even those who had unwillingly been dragged along were beginning to clap their hands and tap their feet.
After an energetic start, One Direction (backed by a live band) slowed down the proceedings with “Better Than Words”, “Story of My Life”, “Stockholm Syndrome”, “Ready to Run”, “Don’t Forget Where You Belong”, “Night Changes” and “Little Things”. Such tracks produced some shiver-down-your-spine moments as the words echoed around the Metro Radio Arena.
At regular intervals throughout the two-hour-long set, the boys took some time out to address the fans: reading out their banners, engaging in conversations, (poorly) imitating the Geordie accent, and thanking them for their loyalty. “It may sound cliché, but we have the best fans in the world,” said Louis, much to the delight of the onlookers.
As the end of the concert neared, the boys continued to rattle through the set list, which primarily consisted of hits from the boyband’s last two studio albums (“Midnight Memories” and “Four”), including “No Control”, “Little Black Dress”, “You & I”, “Through the Dark”, “18”, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “Little White Lies”. This was followed by “Perfect”, the band’s second single as a four-piece, and the mature, pop-rock vibes of “Steal My Girl”.
After a short break, One Direction returned to the stage for the encore. “Act My Age” brought out the boys’ Irish dancing, whilst “What Makes You Beautiful” was a welcome reminder of why everyone fell in love with the band in the first place. “Drag Me Down”, the first single to be released in the post-Zayn era, brought the night to its conclusion, as Harry, Louis, Liam and Niall revelled in the thunderous applause, and deservedly so.
One Direction’s first night at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle marked seven months to the day since the departure of Zayn Malik, who left the band to pursue a solo career. Despite the setback, the boys showed that they are stronger than ever, as they look set to enter their hiatus after the conclusion of their current tour on a high.