When you've reached the pinnacle of your career, you don't really need to try anymore. Right? I mean, what's left to achieve when you can sell out a stadium almost anywhere on the planet in one hour?
One Direction have held the exalted title of 'world's biggest boyband' for several years now, which means that even when they lost a member earlier this year, it didn't impact on their popularity. In fact, sales of their previous albums were even reported to have increased following Zayn Malik's departure in March. What makes it even more remarkable is that they've achieved these incredible levels of fame and fortune without the ability to dance. Somewhere, the Backstreet Boys are quietly seething.
With their supposed 'one-year hiatus' on the very near horizon, the foursome's 'On the Road Again' tour hit Dublin for three nights over the weekend – although if you were looking for a pop show with bells and whistles, you'd have come to the wrong place. With no 'set' as such – apart from a kind of skate ramp platform placed in the centre of the walkway that juts out into the adoring crowd – the 2-hour show was reliant on the songs, the occasional bout of banter and the odd cartoonish graphic on the screens behind them.
Is it good enough? At times, there's an unbridled sense of fun, particularly on the peppy 'Kiss You', their cheesy rock anthem 'Midnight Memories', the zippy 'Best Song Ever' and beefy new dance-led track 'Drag Me Down'. A mid-set interlude sees all four members take a seat on the platform for 'Little Things' and 'Night Changes' as the decibel levels almost drown out their voices, while guitar-toting Mullingar man Niall Horan is endearingly proud to play in front of a home crowd, with family members in tonight's audience. At others, when Harry Styles has flipped his hair for the millionth time and the foursome have prowled the stage with no real purpose yet again, it feels a little cheap and certainly anti-climactic. Where are the confetti canons? Where are the fireworks? Where are the cheeky little skits that don't feel like they're being ad-libbed on the spot just to fill time? Is this not the biggest pop band on the planet right now?
In short, you'd expect more; it feels like corners have been cut and we've seen far better pop shows with bigger productions in our time at the same venue. Perhaps it's best that 1D are bowing out now; after five years at the top, it's time to let someone else challenge for their crown. And maybe - just maybe - it'll be easier to snatch than even they might expect.