One Direction - Croke Park, 23rd May
Anyone who says that pop music is stagnant nowadays would do well to look a the variety of acts that visited our country this week. One Direction and Miley Cyrus, arguably the two biggest acts on the planet right now, would be classified by most as pop purveyors but the truth is that they couldn't be further from each other on the musical spectrum. Whereas last Tuesday's Miley Cyrus concert was a circus-like spectacle and an extension of her recently developed NSFW persona, One Direction couldn't have been more polite, cleaner cut and family-friendly at last night's first of three successive dates in Croke Park.
Playing to their largest ever crowd (somewhere north of 80,000), the show was impeccably produced and all five members of One Direction so at ease with themselves in front of several thousand squealing youngsters. This was something of a homecoming for Mullingar's Niall Horan, too. Every utterance he made throughout the concert, every close-up shot on the big screen and every adorable little wink he made was greeted with a wall of noise usually reserved for a last minute winning point in an All-Ireland final and - much to his credit - he seemed genuinely moved by the reaction.
The music journalist part of me feels obliged to mention that (from where I was stationed anyway) Croke Park isn't an ideal venue for outdoor concerts. The sound swirls around the famous stadium to the point where some of the on-stage banter, which is genuinely some of the best parts of their show, is lost to the wind. Some of the songs were rendered unrecognisable by the joint efforts of adverse weather and a cacophony of screaming children but it would take a curmudgeon of the highest degree to lay any of that blame towards the band themselves as they put in one hell of a shift on stage.
All of the band's hits were on display. Opening with 'Midnight Memories' and its accompanying fireworks display, One Direction didn't ease up one iota throughout their 23-song set. What's interesting about their live show too is that it has an old fashioned variety show aspect to it. All of the band, but particularly Niall, Harry and Liam, are extremely comfortable on the mic and their on-stage banter is clearly one of the keys to their success, with every word is eaten up by the raucous crowd with utter glee.
By the time the concert ended at 10.10pm after their closer 'Story of my Life', all of the hits had been addressed and Niall had had his moment inside the famous stadium. It's around that point that you get the impression that what you've just witnessed isn't a concert in the traditional sense. There is fully-fledged adulation on show here, a reaction mostly reserved for pop artists at the absolute top of their game. That's what One Direction were here. Accessible, kind to their fans, clean-cut, family friendly, rehearsed and hard-workers. They're the sort of boys that would have your daughter home by 9.30pm.
Sometimes though, as is the case with Ms. Cyrus, it's a bit more fun to break curfew.
Story by John Balfe | 12:01 | Friday 23rd May 2014 | Live Reviews