Harry Styles @ Festivalpark Werchter: An oasis of love

The cash register at Werchter has been ringing at a record pace in recent weeks. While living legend Bruce Springsteen managed to sell out the TW Classic in less than an hour last week, Harry Styles just lost out in less than two hours. It also goes to show that the British superstar is probably the greatest artist of all time and therefore not immediately inferior to other greats. Because yes, sometimes people laugh about the glittery aura that the guy hangs around, but the fact is, he’s not ‘boy band One Direction’ anymore. In fact, it’s an image that Styles distances himself from while at the same time not really letting go of it. This is called eating with different wallets; something at which he has proved particularly good in recent years. Magazine covers, starring roles in movies, hit albums,… needless to mention, Harry Styles is undoubtedly a style icon who makes hearts skip a beat when he shows his human side on stage.

And those hearts hold a massive amount for Harry Styles, as this past weekend demonstrated once again. Fans camped out at the gates of the Werchter Festival Park from early Friday morning – the doors opened as early as 4pm on Saturday (!), Live Nation opened additional merchandise stands at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, live blogs on various media channels… ever Too. That hit single “As It Was” from the most recent record. harry’s house has appeared on the radio more frequently in recent weeks, so it seems mere coincidence.

After entering the sun-drenched Festival Park in boas, glittery trousers, pink cowboy hats and crazy sunglasses of all shapes and sizes, the onus was on the ladies of Wet Legs to start the debate. At first glance this might not exactly be the band that can be found in the same areas as Harry Styles, but in retrospect it’s just a solid support act. While the Brits first stepped through a somewhat edgy sonic mix, “Wet Dream” built on the initial excitement much later. The audience was filled with positive energy, as “Supermarket” waved hands without question and “Ur Mom” ​​saw women able to test their hysterical screams for the first time. So all very well, but we’re getting the feeling more and more that Wet Leg is a bit of a squeeze on its own image. That artificial embarrassment, beautiful French and significantly less rock material than in the past. Anyway, on a blissful evening like yesterday it was all down to the details, because once “Chez Longue” reverberated across the grounds, the tone was set for what was to come. .

After a half-hour of singing classics like Robbie Williams’ “Angels” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the shining god everyone was waiting for appeared just after a quarter past nine. Under something that came close to hysterical screams, but in an especially “daydreaming” tone, Harry Styles became familiar with Werchter and his thousands of smartphone screens. The fact that the guy immediately chose a lesser-known song to create atmosphere by traversing the stage flapping his arms with his energetic ease proved to be a smart move. Everything indicated that Britton would detonate a full set, because with the following “Golden” she literally brought the grasshoppers to their knees as they blasted into the chorus with a lovelorn pogo.

IA significant advantage immediately turned out to be the eleven-piece live band that the man had brought with him. This ensured that flaws did not go unnoticed. For example, Styles sang “Adore You” a few notes down and left the higher parts up to the audience, but because the whole thing was put together so well musically and Brit was brimming with born charisma, Fell in the barrel, it never happened actually fell on the spot. The star played that last trump card to perfection from the start: From his massive catwalk he constantly sought a connection with the meadow. Plus the clichéd binding lessons about mental health and how everyone should be able to be themselves and have fun all contributed to Styles’ hug factor. He’s also just a guy who wants to have fun, but with a touch of healthy arrogance.

Unfortunately, that speech was immediately followed by a short period in the set. However, everything never collapsed like pudding and nothing sounded wrong or bad, but so “Keep Driving” was no more than just solid and “Daylight” wasn’t exactly better than any other song. You also noticed that there was a sort of trivial routine in the show and everyone was often waiting for a big hit to explode. That doesn’t change the fact that a rock song like “She” came into its own during a golden age, which also featured some sad nostalgic guitar solos. On the other hand, the fact that Styles wished fans a dozen happy birthdays in between ensured that the feud never died down.

It was just enough for him. For example, “Matilda” was performed with a bassist, guitarist and singer in the middle of the audience; And the fact that such an intimate number doesn’t just demolish a set, but instead provides a great sing-along moment, immediately proves its strength. But the fact that – otherwise quite exhausted – Harry Styles himself felt he had to shift up a few gears in order to drag Werchter perfectly over the line certainly says something about the other side as well. After making headlines for a few bursts of enthusiasm in “Satellite” and his four-piece horn section in “Late Night Talking,” he took time out to read some signs in the audience. Silly jokes, fooling around with a young lady’s French name in the front, helping a fan profess his love… and how do you actually pronounce ‘Werchter’? All this ensured that the atmosphere was light enough that you could feel the pressure on everyone’s shoulders somewhere.

Because since then the set has only gone up. “Cinema” was the start of a ‘discomdly’, with Harry Styles becoming more and more comfortable. He jumped from place to place to the applause of the audience, while the grassy field rapidly turned into an open-air discotheque. Not long after, “YMCA” was also introduced as “music for sushi restaurants”, raising the temperature even higher. A rainbow flag, a funny hat, a national tricolor… The Briton clearly did everything he could to keep up the pace. And with success, because “Treat People Kindness” created a tidal wave of love and then the climax was yet to come.

“What Makes You Beautiful” was announced for One Direction’s “Best Song” and then the fences were all over. For the first time, the mass hysteria actually got bigger, as the screams were so loud that Styles was sometimes hard to hear. With “Watermelon Sugar” as a refreshing snack and fan favorite “Fine Line,” one of the most beautiful rock ballads composed in recent years, the hits quickly followed, as the regular set concluded. followed. The fact that we saw thousands of smartphone lights go up in the immediate aftermath meant that we had completely ticked off our list of corny pop concert events. With “Sign of the Times”, the British picked up the thread in the BIS round where they had left it, although the closing duet “As It Was” – with a huge roar of “Quit America” ​​– and “Kiwi” had Harry in Werchter. Styles’ route nonetheless secured a pinfall victory.

So it was all down to earth, which Harry Styles set up last night. Was the British a victim of its own propaganda? Perhaps, because when everything around you is putting so much pressure on your shoulders for weeks, a tinge of frustration is always lurking around the corner. Luckily, the superstar is charismatic and, above all, professional enough that he never let that emotion overpower him, because what he put on at Werchter was just a pretty solid show that was over before we knew it. Confirmed once again that time flies when you’re having fun. And that’s all that happened last night. Even if you don’t know a single song, you’re completely engrossed in the aura of love that surrounds Styles and his fanbase. Well, the gimmicks and clichés were definitely present, but Brit knows how to sell it all with such sincerity and honesty that you never realize that her set is ultimately a well-oiled machine.

Harry Styles brings to Werchter an oasis of love where everyone can be themselves and, as promised, just have tons of fun. Sometimes the music was even an afterthought, as after a rough start, enthusiasm spread through the meadow. And whoever finds a rough boa feather on the field during Rock Werchter next week will remember Saturday night with a smile.

set list:

love you
keep driving
late night chat
music for sushi restaurant
treat people with kindness
What Makes You Beautiful (One Direction song)
Grape juice
watermelon sugar
fine line

sign of the times
as it was

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