The Irish Mail on Sunday
So what was the concert like?
Star was just one of thousands of X Factor wannabes four years ago, he reminded 82,000 screaming fans as 1D brought the house down
THERE are five guys in One Direction – but their gigs in Croke Park are indisputably Niall Horan’s nights.
The band spent a good proportion of Friday night’s show deferring to the 22year-old from Mullingar – which was exactly what the 82,000 fans had come to see.
He reminded fans that four years ago he had queued for the Dublin X Factor auditions outside the National Conference Centre with his cousin.
Now, here he was performing for the biggest crowd the band had ever had.
‘Not many Westmeath men get to play Croke Park,’ he said into a microphone specially customised with a tricolour.
Not many men from Westmeath would experience such adulation short of winning an All-Ireland. The screams were reassur-
‘Not many Westmeath men get to play Croke Park’
ingly at the extreme end of the scale.
This is a teenage rite of passage and it’s those screams that One Direction are designed to induce.
The girls in that age group may find themselves with laryngitis this morning, while the parents who accompanied them might endure tinnitus for a little longer.
The younger children sometimes covered their ears. Some of the very young looked a bit bewildered by it all.
They queued with their mums or dads in the hallways of the stands for ‘One Direction Meal Deals’ – a quarter pounder, mineral, crisps and chocolate – for €9.20.
They could also get Lucky Bags and temporary tattoos at the same food stall.
At one stall in the Hogan Stand, I met 17-year-old Louise Anderson from Solihull in Birmingham, who was skipping studies for her A Levels for one weekend and taking advantage of the Bank Holiday in England to be at the gig.
She was with two of her Dublin cousins and had travelled from Birmingham that morning to be there.
‘I love them all but I have a real crush on Zayn,’ she said, in a break from the massive proNiall consensus. The sight and sounds of it all might have been familiar to parents who may previously have eaten their crisps and chocolate and had their own favourites in Take That, Boyzone or Westlife and the other boyband acts that have laid the road upon which One Direction has followed – with significantly more success than any of those predecessors.
It wasn’t the only thing that struck a chord of familiarity. Midnight Memories, the opener, was a ringer for Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar On Me. Live While You’re Young borrowed from the Clash’s Should I Stay Or Should I Go. But it’s the scale of One Direction’s success that constantly astounds the uninitiated. In truth, the boys do little themselves, either off stage or on the giant skate-park-themed one at Croke Park, to explain the phenomenon.
There were no dancing girls gyrating around them. They didn’t go somersaulting down the runway that ends around the hallowed ground’s halfway line.
Niall plays guitar, so he didn’t have to worry about dance moves. However, neither did Liam, Zayn, Louis or Harry.
They ambled, strolled and grabbed their crotches occasion- ally – but their moves on stage were anything but choreographed, purposely so, perhaps.
Their body language screamed, ‘How on earth did we end up here?’ like few bands before them.
The four English members in their various accents shouted ‘Dahblin!’ ‘Dobblin!’ ‘Debblin!’.
‘Dahblin, you are amazing,’ Louis
‘Does anybody like Superquinn sausages?’
told the crowd at one stage. They were. Spits of rain gave way to a horrible soaking shower around halfway through the show but it didn’t dampen the audience’s enthusiasm at all.
They just put up their hoods and screamed all the louder any time Niall’s face appeared on the big screen.
They cheered when Liam asked: ‘Does anybody like Superquinn sausages?’ in an apparent reference to Niall’s homely requests on his backstage food ‘rider’.
The audience sang all the louder particularly to Strong, an appropriately titled crowd pleaser.
The fans surpassed themselves as they drowned out the band onstage during What Makes You Beautiful.
For an encore Niall returned, having donned an Ireland rugby jersey, and they all had hoodies or hats except Harry, who defiantly leapt about in a black and white polka dot shirt.
If you can judge the popularity of the individual members of band by their Twitter followers then it is Harry, the youngest, with more than 20 million.
But for these three nights he had to give way to Niall, his Superquinn sausages, his guitar strumming and 82,000 fans who saw him win for Westmeath at Croke Park.