In just four years, One Direction has cultivated a feverish fan base so strong, the boy band can sell out U.S. stadiums, a feat that mirrors 'N Sync's success more than a decade ago, and an achievement only a handful of musicians can claim.
But 1D is a New Age boy band. Its members don't dance or play instruments (really). Instead, they are part-charming, part-edgy and have impressive voices. The fivesome, who were formed on the U.K.'s version of "The X Factor" in 2010, provided some memorable moments at a sold-out MetLife Stadium show in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Monday night, showing they have chemistry.
But most of the night, they were clumsy.
1D kicked off the concert with heavy fireworks, matched with screaming, screeching, yelling and crying from more than 80,000 passionate fans — and their parents — who filled the venue for the "Where We Are" tour. They started with the title track from their third platinum-selling album, "Midnight Memories," offering their most rock 'n' roll moment of the night as Niall Horan played guitar and Liam Payne sported a New York Giants jersey.
But during that song, and other upbeat ones, you couldn't hear the voices of the band members — including Harry Styles, Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson — over the loud instruments and heavy bass. During "Rock Me," though, the boys worked the center of the stage nicely, each placed in a corner and singing directly to fans. However, most of the time, they were sloppy and out of place.
There was no real choreography onstage. While one sang, another did a silly dance, looked awkwardly into the camera that was taping the show or playfully shoved the other. Even when Horan spoke seriously to the crowd about how the band was humbled to perform at stadiums — they all mentioned the Super Bowl nearly a dozen times because it was held at MetLife Stadium earlier this year — Payne uttered mindless words on his microphone. And at one point, Styles ate a banana onstage.
The band doesn't seem to take itself seriously — which can be a good thing — but that makes it hard to take its musicianship seriously.
1D shined when band members sang slower songs such as "Don't Forget Where You Belong," the recent hit "You & I" and "Moments," where Malik's voice was striking. The simpler performances were tighter and gave each member a position onstage, showcasing the group's brotherhood and talents.
That's probably the direction that One Direction should take.
Follow Mesfin Fekadu at twitter.com/MusicMesfin