A Rubix Cube and the hands of someone trying to fit it together appear on the screen at Qudos Bank Arena. Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ and Daryl Braithwaite’s ‘Horses’ (but more on that later) play over the speaker. You can almost feel 21,000 people holding their breath. The edge of insane energy that appeared earlier in the pre-show playlist with a full singalong to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and One Direction’s ‘Olivia’ has faded a little. We’re saving our energy after all…
The Preatures, an Australian rock band, fronted by the awesome Isabella Manfredi were the perfect choice for opening act. Their blend of guitar riffs, groovin’ and some cheeky throwaways about the man we’d all come to see had the audience eating out of the palm of their hand, which is harder than it looks when you’re an opening act. I think the best moment of their set, however, came when they took things down a notch and it was just Manfredi, a piano and an arena full of phone lights as she sang a song we could all relate to; “Your Fan” off their second album, Girlhood
When the lights go down for the second time, the noise is almost deafening. I can’t imagine what it sounded like from the stage but from our seats, it sounded like a night wild with possibility, as thousands of people were fearlessly themselves, uncaring of what others thought and just experiencing unbridled pure joy. And boy, was it ever.
Side note: As someone who’s in a wheelchair, I’m used to seats that are up in the rafters, especially at Qudos Bank Arena so I don’t know who was responsible for the change but thank you so much. You made me feel included in a way I haven’t before and that meant a hell of a lot. It wouldn’t surprise me if Harry had some hand in the decision. A huge thank you to the crew last night, while I think of it, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure Harry and the band could give us magic. It takes an army and you’re a well-oiled one.
But back to the show: The band comes on. The cheers get louder. It’s Adam, Clare, Mitch and Sarah, extremely talented musicians who spend every second looking as though they’ve hit the jackpot. And then, there he is.
In a caramel coloured custom Calvin Klein suit, complete with pointy-toed highlighter- yellow boots, Harry Styles made it immediately clear, he’s putting on a show like his heroes; Mick, Freddie, Stevie, Elton John and Shania to name a few.
That attention to fashion was mirrored in his audience; people wore bold colours, letting themselves indulge in a way they perhaps wouldn’t feel comfortable otherwise.
But that’s just the thing about Harry. From the minute he flashes that megawatt grin and those dimples appear, he makes you feel comfortable. He makes you feel no matter where you are in the arena, that he wants you to be there. With a “Hi, I’m Harry” and a “This place is bloody massive!” he puts so much energy into the show, dancing, singing and just being infectiously happy that at the end of the almost 2 hour set, I’m left wondering how on earth, he’ll do it all again tonight in Brisbane. But he will. The same cheeky bantering, his new love affair with Daryl Braithwaite’s ‘Horses’ – he must have had us sing the chorus 3 or 4 times and he got ridiculously offended when someone suggested that was more than enough and his seamless passion for the music that made him and the stuff he’s doing now, will leave every person with the same warmth I saw reflected on every face last night.
Harry, you were so grateful for our support of you, even going so far as to say “Things like this don’t happen to boys like me.” But, you deserve it. I’m a concert fiend and I can safely say, never before have I felt so loved, accepted and safe in a space, in my life. I hope you know that it’s not just me. You made people feel so free in themselves, whether with a wave of the rainbow flag or encouraging us to do whatever made us happiest, that there was a full on dance party for an hour after the show in the venue foyer. I danced with strangers unabashedly and sang at the top of my lungs, walking to the train station and then had to fight the urge to dance in the rain on the way home. It was 2am by the time I crawled into bed But I didn’t care.
On a personal note – in the year so since your music came out, I’ve been through and had to deal with some very challenging times, including when people have been less than kind. But thanks to your album, the friends I’ve made because of it and the way you wear your heart on your sleeve, unapologetically baring your values, I’ve gotten through. Not only have you given me some wonderful tunes, but you helped me to become more aware of what I stand for, and the life I want to lead. Treating people with kindness has always been innately my way but you’ve helped it transform more into a conscious choice to go above and beyond. Thank you isn’t big enough for all of that. Lately, I’ve been struggling to find myself a little, but last night, for the first time in an age, I felt free and unjudged because of the attitude and atmosphere you cultivated. You helped me find the way to a piece of myself last night and I will always be grateful for that.
*sniffs* I think I better call it a day, before I start crying, in a cool way obviously 😂
All the love,
Hannah ❤ x