Entertainment

One Direction plays shriek-worthy performance in Charlotte

The shrieking started early, and it never stopped.

Long before the boy band One Direction took the stage Saturday night at the PNC Music Pavilion, when all that was showing on the jumbo screens were ads for Nabisco and the band’s concert film, the teen and prepubescent audience took to its feet and let out the loudest roars imaginable.

And throughout the 100-minute concert at the packed pavilion, the band acted as though they needed to work hard for those screams.

“You are the loudest people I’ve ever met in my life,” Liam Payne flirted. “This has been my favorite show we’ve done in the whole tour.”

“When I wrote this, I was thinking of you, so it’s all for you,” said Niall Horan, leading up to “Don’t Forget Where You Belong.”

“Are you having a good time?” Harry Styles playfully grilled the crowd again and again.

“We have to say ‘thank you,’ because you guys have made this happen. You’ve put us on this grand stage,” gushed Louis Tomlinson.

The four-year-old band served up 25 songs off its three albums with few props and stunts, save for an explosion of red and white streamers during “Happily” that caught in the pavilion’s rafters and dangled for the duration of the concert.

It was emotion that kept the audience rapt during the high-energy performance, with the five singers thanking their fans over and over for their rapid rise from contestants on Simon Cowell’s British “The X Factor” to a multiplatinum band known around the world.

The singers, four from Britain and one, Horan, from Ireland, had no marked choreography but instead playfully glided across the stage, jumping up and down during their most high-energy songs. Payne, his right arm in a cast up to his elbow from what his reps told British media was a “training injury,” made the most use of quick footwork and some spins around the stage.

Horan, the lone instrumentalist of the five singers, played his guitar for a good half of the evening’s songs. Backup instrumentalists included a keyboardist, a drummer and two guitarists.

The five singers opened the show with their title track to “Midnight Memories,” their latest album, and alternated radio favorites like “Live While We’re Young,” “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Little Things” with lesser-known songs like “Little White Lies” and “Alive.”

For “Little Things,” the singers perched on steps on the simple set and asked the audience to shine their cellphone lights, creating as intimate a musical experience as is possible in a crowd of thousands.

Styles (the crowd’s favorite, judging from the intensity of the shrieks) solicited a birthday girl from the audience and found one, 26-year-old Jessica, in the front row. The band (and crowd) serenaded her with “Happy Birthday,” and Styles jumped into the audience and gave her a hug and a peck on the cheek.

It was Styles who worked the crowd the most during the evening, grabbing his own phone for photos of fans, checking in with the audience all around the venue to see if they were having fun, and walking up the short thrust stage to make eye contact with individual fans. The audience thanked him with screams.

Energy never lagged during the evening, although at a few points band members were clearly fiddling with earpieces that appeared to be vexing.

Zayn Malik, the most pensive of the five, acknowledged that “this is a different layout from what we’re used to, but we’re going to make the most of it.”

If the audience noticed the occasional audio imbalance during the group’s harmonizing, it didn’t show.

Moms, dads and grandmothers there as chaperones got on their feet during the band’s most famous tracks, and Horan made a point to thank them.

As the show wrapped with “Best Song Ever,” digital confetti blew on the screens and the band blew kisses to the ecstatic crowd. Malik was last to leave the stage, his voice audible even after he was out of sight.

Concert opener Australian pop rock quartet 5 Seconds of Summer, whose self-titled album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 in July, drew plenty of excitement from fans earlier in the evening, especially during “Amnesia,” one of their hottest current tracks.

The One Direction/5 Seconds of Summer “Where We Are” tour plays at PNC Music Pavilion again Sunday before its next stop in Atlanta on Wednesday.

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