The shrieking started early, and it never stopped.
Long before the One Direction boy band took the stage Saturday night at the PNC Music Pavilion, when all that was on the jumbo screens were ads for Nabisco and the band’s concert film, the teen and pre-pubescent audience took to their 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.”
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“Are you having a good time?” Harry Styles playfully grilled the crowd, again and again.
“This is hands down the best (city) yet,” said Niall Horan.
“We have to say thank you, because you guys have made this happen. You’ve put us on this grand stage,” gushed Louis Tomlinson.
Despite the size of the show and the vastness of the venue, the four-year-old band served up 25 of its songs with refreshingly few props and stunts, save for an explosion of red and white streamers during “Happily” that cleverly were caught in the pavilion’s rafters and dangled like strands of hair 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 four-year ascent from contestants on Simon Cowell’s British version of The X Factor to a multi-platinum band known around the world.
The band opened the show with their title track to Midnight Memories, their latest album, and alternated radio favorites like “Live Like We’re Young,” “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” and “All the Little Things” with lesser known songs like “Don’t Forget Where You Belong” and “Alive.”
For “All the Little Things,” the men sat on steps on the simple set and asked the audience to shine their cell phone lights, creating as intimate a musical experience as is possible in a crowd of tens of thousands.
Styles (the crowd’s favorite, judging from the intensity of the shrieks) solicited a birthday girl from the audience and found one in the front row, named Jessica. The band (and crowd) sang happy birthday to her.
Styles 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 catwalk into the crowd during many songs. The audience thanked him with screams.
Energy never lagged during the evening, although at a few points band members were clearly fiddling with earpieces.
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.”
One Direction plays again Sunday night at PNC Music Pavilion.
With that crowd top Saturday’s for “favorite show?”