There’s nothing more electrifying than a live show where the audience is mostly comprised of teenage girls. Despite the stigma that comes with term “fangirl,” specifically when in the context of a male performer, it is becoming harder and harder to resist the impact of the fangirl.
When One Direction where at their peak, I was definitely a few years out of the demographic; more focused on the pop punk and indie scene, my boy band days were left in the past with the disbandment of ‘NSYNC and (temporarily) the Backstreet Boys. However, there was always a respect there for the One Direction boys, who I believed were they rightful ones to carry on the boy band torch. As they too have gone their (lol) own directions, their solo careers and the way they have decided to pave their own paths has been intriguing to watch. Niall Horan in particular has been the one who has seem to go in the most earnest route. His debut album Flicker leans more towards the singer-songwriter variety even more so than former bandmate’s Harry Styles’ debut. Horan teetered the line between folk and pop and country, even duetting with current tourmate Maren Morris. During his first sold out night at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, Horan’s love for this genre of music was apparent, genuine, and incredibly infectious.
Throughout his 90-minute set, Horan would tell stories of how he always dreamed of playing the iconic venue because a lot of his favorite performers seemed to end up in California. He cited The Eagles as one of his major influences, called Bruce Springsteen the greatest songwriter of all time before performing his own rendition of “Dancing in the Dark,” and even threw in a Tom Petty cover in his set almost as a wink to the patient parents who brought their children to the show. Not usually a list of inspirations you would expect an alum of one of the biggest boy bands of all time.
While Horan has tons to offer from his charismatic stage presence, effortless vocal execution to his multi-instrument juggling — to be frank, his true and unique quality is the authenticity that radiates behind his good boy smile. Horan can’t help but light up the stage when he smiles, which he does frequently. It’s a sign that he’s sincerely having a great time on stage which translates into not only believing everything he says and sings, but feeling it deep within your core.
As Horan glided through Flicker as well as some One Direction covers (“Fool’s Gold” and “Drag Me Down”), the audience was with him all the way singing every line louder than him and never wavering in their energy. At one point, the crown lit up the Greek with green, white, and orange lights — synchronized to mimic the Ireland flag, Horan’s home country. That type of thought and consideration is something that is needed in today’s world: a group of people unashamed of loving something so much they’re willing to go above and beyond to make it known.
Though I thought my boy band days were behind, Niall Horan’s performance reminded me that that part of me was always there. That part that wants to be untouched by the burdens of real “adult” life. That part that wants to love something unconditionally. That part that wants to be ignore the ugly and only see the beauty in life. The place to experience that is at a live show; a place where we can all gather and let go and be free even if it’s only for one night. At least we can have that flicker to ignite the fire to take us through to tomorrow.
Photo by Michelle Shiers c/o The Greek Theatre