Harry Styles in Dublin review: A euphoric Aviva worships its hero at fantastic gig

Harry Styles was in top form at a sold-out Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Wednesday
Harry Styles in Dublin review: A euphoric Aviva worships its hero at fantastic gig

Harry Styles on stage at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin

“Good evening people of Dublin,” says Harry Styles, “My name is Harry, it’s an absolute pleasure.”  

The roar from the Harry Styles fans in the crowd at the Aviva Stadium suggested it was very much a mutual feeling. 

Many of Styles’ fans have been following him since he was a cheeky curly-haired 16-year-old handpicked by Simon Cowell to form one of the world’s most popular boybands — I met one of those fans who missed out on tickets originally and broke down in tears in a Tesco recently after finally securing herself one on a resale site — but few could have predicted what the break-up of One Direction in 2015 would mean for Styles.

Harry Styles on stage at the Aviva 
Harry Styles on stage at the Aviva 

Seven years later, the 28-year-old is a Grammy-award-winning solo artist, actor, and androgynous style icon.

His latest and third album, Harry’s House, has had the biggest album sales week of the year in the Irish charts (ditto the UK and US charts), while also managing to shift more copies on vinyl than any other record since at least 1991 when SoundScan began keeping reliable sales data.

Anna McCaldin and Molly Harwood from Northern Ireland, ahead of attending tonight's performance by Harry Styles. Picture: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Anna McCaldin and Molly Harwood from Northern Ireland, ahead of attending tonight's performance by Harry Styles. Picture: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The magnitude of this success becomes apparent as soon as he steps on stage – with a feral scream erupting from the Aviva that seems to shake its very foundation.

From the first notes of ‘Music for a Sushi Restaurant’— which are genuinely quite hard to hear against the absolute mania that had just erupted (a girl in front of me is hyperventilating to the point the person beside her is checking she’s OK) Styles commands the crowd.

Molly Maguire from Cork heading along to tonight's performance by Harry Styles. Picture: Leah  Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Molly Maguire from Cork heading along to tonight's performance by Harry Styles. Picture: Leah  Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Parading across the stage in a tight green and white striped jumpsuit, everyone seated is up from the first song, dancing, and waving rainbow flags and signs declaring their devotion. One particularly prominent one reads: “I love u thx 4 saving us.” Another, "Póg Mo Thóin, Harry."

On ‘Adore You’, a sickly sweet stand-out from his second album Fine Line, Styles coos “I'd walk through fire for you / just let me adore you” with a backing chorus of 65,000 fans who know every word. At this point, he makes the stage his catwalk, strutting by each corner of the pit and blowing kisses to the masses.

Amy Kelly and Hannah O'Farrell from Dublin before the Harry Styles concert in Dublin. Picture: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Amy Kelly and Hannah O'Farrell from Dublin before the Harry Styles concert in Dublin. Picture: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

As the night goes on, a sense of delirious joy in the air, there are Irish flags and rainbow flags hoisted on stage, one lucky fan gets serenaded with ‘Happy Birthday’ and a lot of people are feeling their #feels. 

‘Boyfriends’ seems to be written specifically for this crowd, made predominately of women in their 20s and 30s. “Boyfriends… they take you for granted,” he sings softly, “You love a fool who knows just how to get under your skin...” There is a lot of sniffling.

Louise O'Rourke, Zoe Delea, Molly Walsh and Emma Walsh heading along to the Aviva Stadium. Picture: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Louise O'Rourke, Zoe Delea, Molly Walsh and Emma Walsh heading along to the Aviva Stadium. Picture: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Styles has changed a lot since his days standing alongside our own Niall Horan. His sound, his lyrics and his overall bravado have matured. He sings unashamedly — and without the sense, it’s a man trying to shake off a former self — about oral sex, cocaine in kitchens, and girls getting themselves, eh, excited for him.

But it’s in his softer moments — like the heartfelt monologue he gives about looking after yourself without feeling guilty, and the points in which he stops the show to make sure his fans are alright — that you see the side of the superstar this crowd is in love with. 

At two stages during the night he stops the show mid-song to check on fans he has spotted who appear to be in trouble. During one incident, a giddy crowd starts singing "Olé, Olé, Olé" during the pause and a stern Styles puts up a hand, 'Wait.'

So we do. And when he is assured the fan is okay, the crowd explodes once more.

We are rewarded with 'Watermelon Sugar,' 'As It Was,' 'Sign of the Times,' 'Kiwi' and even a rendition of One Direction's first mega-hit 'What Makes You Beautiful.'

"You have changed my life," he says towards the end of the night, as he thanks his fans for supporting him all these years.

"I'd lay down for you... every single one of you.. thank you so much."

More in this section

Scene & Heard
Newsletter

Music, film art, culture, books and more from Munster and beyond.......curated weekly by the Irish Examiner Arts Editor.

Sign up