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There are a lot of things I’d do for Harry Styles, but holding a total stranger’s hand and telling them I love them is probably a bridge too far. The fact I briefly considered it on Saturday night is testament to the seductive wiles of Holmes Chapel’s number one son, who was charm personified at the first of his two sell-out Wembley Stadium shows.
Currently touring the UK and Europe under the banner Love On Tour, the 28-year-old singer seems to be taking the brief literally, fostering mass outpourings of affection and leaving a groundswell of goodwill in his wake. Where last week in Manchester he singled out his former primary school teacher for a heart-warming tribute, at Wembley he led tens of thousands of punters in the aforementioned trust exercise, conducted a mass singalong of All You Need Is Love and shared a succession of heartfelt tributes to fans throughout the set. That none of this felt cloying or insincere is testament to Styles’ seemingly boundless charisma.
An attentive host as well as a magnetic frontman, he repeatedly checked in on the audience between songs and paced every inch of the stage and extended, U-shaped catwalk so that everyone got a chance to glimpse his mischievous grin and heart-covered Gucci one-piece up close.
Backed by a brilliant six-piece band, songs from May’s number one album Harry’s House were imbued with new potency, be that the playful 80s funk of Music For A Sushi Restaurant, the innuendo-heavy yacht rock of Cinema or the dazzling pop shimmy of Satellite. The Laurel Canyon-inspired folk stylings of Matilda and Boyfriends struck a particularly tender note live, thanks in part to stunning vocal harmonies courtesy of drummer Sarah Jones, bassist Elin Sandberg and multi-instrumentalist Ny Oh.
In a set where every song proved a crowd pleaser, it was still the big singles that stood out. A rocking rendition of What Makes You Beautiful brought out everyone’s inner Directioner, while Treat People With Kindness proved so utterly joyous it prompted a spontaneous mass conga at the front end of the football pitch. Best of all was the epic outing of debut single Sign of The Times, which arrived in the encore as fireworks exploded from the roof of the stadium.
“I cannot explain what it means to be playing here,” Styles told the audience prior to current smash As It Was, suddenly seeming suspiciously watery-eyed at the enormity of the night’s achievement. “This does not happen to people like me…” Except it does. Lucky us.