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(One Direction - or almost all of them - on stage at the Hordern Pavilion)

Much excitement, including in some surprising quarters – as in, aren’t you too old for this kind of giddiness? – was on display in the past week as Harry Styles tickets went on sale. Almost a full year before he actually makes it here. (If he makes it here, of course, given nothing is certain in the Plague Years.)

Excitement is not new for Mr Styles of course. Wind Back Wednesday steps in one direction – the past – to his first visit here as part of a little known, barely recognisable pop ensemble. There were grumbles alongside the thrills back then too. Same as it ever was eh Harry?



Hordern Pavilion, April 13, 2012

ALL LAST WEEK the usual grumps were bemoaning the end of civilisation, or at the least the final nail in the coffin of popular music, because a group aimed at teenagers - and teenage girls at that - was hogging the headlines.

Of course, that's never happened before in the 60 years since the teenager was invented, has it?

If those prematurely aged whiners could have coped with the OH&S-flouting decibel level of the screaming (forget Primal Scream, AC/DC and the Prodigy; this left them for dead/deaf), put aside the y fronts-exposing jeans (Jesus, Mary, Joseph, pull your pants up Niall) and looked away from the just-woke-up-next-to-my-latest-cougar hair (would a brush be too much to ask Harry?) they might have been surprised at some very old-fashioned values in this show.

And no, I don't mean Zayn’s blink-and-you-missed-it "DJ set".

At every available opportunity, profusely and seemingly genuinely, the British/Irish quintet thanked and thanked and kept thanking their fans. For being here, for buying the records, for screaming, for tweeting during the show and for just being.

Of course, given they've only got one album of songs to fill the hour, a reasonable amount of chat is a good idea and it lets the fans feel even more part of the event. Nonetheless, this is a crew who have spent more time being well drilled in being well mannered than in mastering intricate dance routines, of which there were none surprisingly.

Without the dancing or any of the bells and whistles of your standard pop show, save for a screen showing endless footage of those beaming, non-NHS smiles, the attention was focused on the singing and the songs.

The former is at worst perfectly decent and often enough very good with Harry and Niall the best, Zayn and Liam occasionally weak and Louis as ever somewhere in between. The latter were energetic and extremely well put together examples of the professional’s craft: touching on bits of synth pop, guitar rock (ooh, a ten second guitar solo at one point - how daring), rousing Celtic rock choruses, mild R&B and sweetened, but not dangerously so, ballads.

Much, much fun was had. On and off stage. Move along, nothing to grump about here.


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