a love letter to Love On Tour
Harry Styles recently finished his four-show sold-out stint at Wembley Stadium: a venue that he has dreamed of performing in all his life. And in these shows, he stated that Love On Tour has made him the happiest he’s ever been in his life and that if these shows were his final shows ever, he would be more than happy.
There is no denying that Love On Tour has been massive. 169 dates, multiple different legs, and over 3,000,000 (and counting) in attendance.
However, it’s not just Harry Styles himself that this mammoth 2-year-long tour has had an impact on. It’s had a cultural impact that only a few artists create when they take to the stage.
But why is that? Why has Love On Tour been one of the major tours you hear about on the news, on social media, or hear people talking about in the office at work? Why is Love On Tour, known by fans as HSLOT, a place that everyone seems to be at?
As someone who has had the privilege of going to several of his tour dates in London both last year and this year, I think I have some authority to tell you.
First of all: it’s the man himself.
Yes, Harry Styles has a solid discography. He’s critically acclaimed and has one of the best-performing songs on the charts of all time for a reason. However, his concert performances go way beyond just having good songs that people want to hear live.
It is obvious that Styles was born to be on a stage, and the second you see him live, it is easy to assume that the reason this tour has gone on for so long is that Styles just absolutely loves performing. Maybe you could even go as far as to say that maybe he even makes music just as an excuse to be back on stage, getting the attention of a roaring crowd and just, in the best way, being a complete show-off.
The production behind his tour is actually surprisingly limited compared to most of the other stadium tours going on concurrently. There are some visuals on the screens, and he has a fantastic band behind him (shout out in particular to Sarah Jones, his phenomenal drummer) but there’s no doubt that he, himself, is the show.
Of course, there is the discussion about the fact that female artists like Beyonce and Taylor Swift have to do so much more to be considered impressive. And I won't try and excuse Harry Styles from that conversation, but part of what makes his shows stand out from others is that his charm and charisma are part of ‘show’. He isn’t just standing up there and singing looking half-interested in his own performance like a lot of other male artists. He is up there giving his everything to every single song, and every moment in between.
It's common sense that nobody beyond his friends and family will ever know the true Harry Styles, but it feels as if the version of him that’s on stage during these performances is the closest the general public will ever come to seeing his genuine self. He’s far more comfortable on a stage in front of tens of thousands of his fans, than he is talking to an interviewer on a red carpet or doing a press conference for a movie. He’s eloquent, he’s charming, and dare I say he’s even funny.
During more than one of his Wembley shows, and several others throughout the over 100 show-long tour you could visibly see and hear him getting emotional over the fact he managed to achieve what he has, and it was the kind of reaction and genuine thanks that it would be almost impossible to fabricate. Harry Styles is a natural superstar, and he knows how lucky he is to get the opportunity to live out his dream night after night.
Beyond the way he performs, the way he cultivates a comfortable and fun space for people to be in is second to none. At every show a speech is made about how the crowd's main requirement is to enjoy themselves and be whoever they want to be. And he acts on it too. He helps people come out, he ensures the crowd is physically safe and just in general you can tell he's truly committed to a comfortable space for all. In a world where safe spaces for all kinds of people are diminishing by the minute, it’s refreshing to see Styles take on his role to create one.
The way in which Styles interacts with his crowd is second to none. You could go to 100 different shows by 100 different artists, and never come across someone who’s so active and engaged with the fans in front of them. He could easily ignore the people that paid hundreds of tickets to be there and just get on with it, but instead, he includes them fully in the show. He banters back and forth, he often listens to requests for songs, and he encourages fan projects like throwing flowers up on stage when playing Grapejuice, or releasing balloons during Matilda. He even dedicates a section of the night, likely as an excuse to have a rest from performing, to reading signs. This then means they aren’t held up in the crowd for the rest of the night, so everyone in the crowd can have a fair view of the rest of the show.
It’s little moments like this that can make or break not only the show, or the tour, but the life of a dedicated fan who finally got to have their special moment with their favourite musician.
However, this all being said, the real people that make these shows are the fans.
Nobody is more aware than Harry Styles himself that Love On Tour has been made as special as it has been by those in the audience.
The fans that dress up in bright colours with feather boas and cowboy hats, who make it clear that you can dress however the hell you want when you’re in that room.
The fans that bring signs he can riff off of.
The fans who sing-along to every adlib.
The fans who start conga lines and boot scoot during Treat People With Kindess.
The fans who become friends with everyone around them for one night.
The fans who help pull another fan’s cowboy boots off on the tube because their feet hurt.
The fans who offer to take pictures for each other to savour their moments at the concert for their favourite artist.
The fans who hold each other while they hear Fine Line.
The fans who made each stadium well and truly Harry’s House.
Really, when you think about it, Harry is just the catalyst; the common denominator. It’s the fans that have truly made Love on Tour the cultural phenomenon that it has become. The place that even people who aren’t big fans of Styles want to be at. The reason is that cities become overtaken by colour and glitter for a few days.
So, perhaps this is really a love letter to Harry Styles fans.
Because Love On Tour would not be Love On Tour, without the love the fans have for not only their favourite artist but for each other.
In Styles' song Matilda he sings the words ‘You can start a family who will always show you love’.
And ironically, that’s what he’s done with Love On Tour, and I, for one, will miss it when it ends.