A sea of frenzied teenage girls wearing outfits they somehow sneaked past their mothers screamed with impressive endurance at KeyArena Sunday, for boy-band sensation One Direction. Signs, T-shirts and training bras flew through the air, most of them falling short of the band’s elevated platform.
If it hadn’t been for the persistent high-pitched shrieks and shouts of “Marry me, Harry!” the hour-and-a-half, 21-song show might have been enjoyable.
Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik — all 19-21 — went through all the motions to show their neon-and-denim, crop-top-and-short-shorts-clad admirers a good time. They gazed into the eyes of front-row fans, they kept asking if everyone was having a good time and they made silly faces at each other every now and then.
Their poppy voices harmonized more naturally than might be expected for this generation’s favorite new boy band.
Their show wasn’t carefully or artfully choreographed, but it didn’t need to be. The allure of this group isn’t in its dancing. It’s in Styles’ hair flips, Payne’s surprising goofiness, Tomlinson’s cheekiness, Horan’s cuteness and Malik’s mysteriousness, all coupled with powerful vocal cords and adorable onstage interactions.
Their thick British accents didn’t hurt either, when they said stupid-funny things to thank their fans for turning out, such as, “You could have been somewhere else. But you are right here.”
From time to time, one member would strum another’s guitar, or put his arm around a bandmate’s shoulders, or execute an endearingly dorky dance move.
What 10- to 16-year-old girl wouldn’t have a crush on at least one of them?
The show started with the lights off and throttling bass, then transitioned into the upbeat, slightly rocky “Up All Night.” About three quarters of the way through, the group played what the audience had been waiting for — its newest single, “Best Song Ever.”
All of a sudden, Liam was holding a larger-than-life-size cutout of Kanye West’s face over his own, which he placed on one of the set’s steps, where it regarded the audience with cool detachment for the duration of the song.
An elevated platform with the London Bridge projected on it turned into a floating bridge that carried the band over rows of floor seating to a smaller stage near the sound board. There, the group played several songs, including the end of “Change My Mind” and the beginning of “Moments.” They rode back to the main stage for the remaining 11 songs.
After a two-song encore that ended with red and white confetti spewing out of the sides of the stage as the men belted out “That’s What Makes You Beautiful,” girls knelt on the floor in a mad scramble to stuff their purses full of the invaluable rectangles of tissue paper.
The seven-song opener, by 5SOS (Five Seconds of Summer), was less charismatic than One Direction, but received almost as much enthusiasm from an audience that was about 90 percent teenage girls, 7 percent their moms, 2 percent their dads and 1 percent their boyfriends.
The girls and their cooperative moms held up signs, some of which lit up. Others tried wordplay: “There is only One Direction to my heart.”
One girl’s sign asked Harry to marry her. She seemed ready to tie the knot on the spot, in her white crop top, denim miniskirt and Bratz-doll makeup. She stood on her chair, frantically waving her sign and screaming.
She didn’t really need that training bra, anyway.