Some say Harry Styles is a sign of the times, but Harry is the future and we’re all lucky to be witnessing it.
I’ve been fortunate enough to see Harry live multiple times – both with One Direction and as a solo-artist – but what impresses me the most are the ways in which Harry manages to stay authentic whilst pushing the boundaries of live music.
The British singer’s latest album ‘Harry’s House’ has skyrocketed to #1 in over 60 countries and the live performances of his new songs have gone viral on social media. Fans have been braving Ticketmaster queues to get a glimpse of Harry on stage, and those that were lucky enough to score tickets were treated to one of the most memorable experiences.
Harry Styles has been championing an innovative live music format which I believe, in the future, will become the norm for many other musicians. Upon the release of Harry’s two most recent albums – ‘Fine Line’ and ‘Harry’s House’ – the singer announced “One Night Only” shows in select locations (Los Angeles, New York, and London) with tickets costing approx. $25 and promising fans a performance of the new album from top to bottom. Every song on the album… performed live… for the first and realistically, the last time.
When artists tour, it’s common for setlists to be compiled of their most successful hits with a couple of album deep-cuts scattered in between. With Harry allowing fans to hear the new album in its entirety, the experience becomes more valuable than you can imagine. During the concert, Harry spoke of how much he adored this live music format and ability for him to perform his albums in “the way it was intended, from start to finish.”
‘Harry Styles: One Night Only’ in New York occurred on the release day of ‘Harry’s House’ and left the singer speechless, as fans in attendance already knew the words to the new songs, memorising them in under 24 hours. When in London a week later, fans sang the lyrics even louder, to Harry’s amazement. It was beautiful to witness the awe on Harry’s face, and joy evident amongst the crowd.
In the age of livestreams, an in-demand concert like Harry’s becomes prime opportunity for a global viewing party. Whilst many Harry Styles fans have often taken it upon themselves to livestream his shows themselves on Twitter or Instagram, Apple Music recently jumped on the bandwagon. For the first time, Harry’s ‘One Night Only’ in New York concert was livestreamed with an official broadcaster, available on the Apple Music platform live, and for additional screenings in the following days.
The demand of this livestream was notable, as fans livestreamed the Apple Music livestream for those who aren’t Apple Music subscribers. Fans used Twitter and Twitch to achieve this, ensuring that no Harry Styles fan missed out on the experience.
Harry Styles creates a safe space for fans to express themselves, whether they’re physically in attendance at a show or watching live from the comfort of their bed. Becoming famous for delivering a heartfelt speech each show, Harry always says, “feel free to be whoever you want to be” and advocates for the LGBTQI+ community, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement – waving flags supporting the causes on stage at every show. His song “Treat People with Kindness” is the motto, branded on merchandise and preached from the beginning of his solo career. The love and support that radiates from Harry shines brightly back at him from the crowd, with an undeniable understanding existing between the singer and his fanbase.
With the future in mind, Harry Styles is also an advocate for charity, climate change and gun control.
In the bid to end gun violence, Harry recently pledged a $1 million donation from ticket sales for his upcoming, sold-out ‘Love on Tour 2022’ US tour to Everytown. The organisation works to achieve gun safety and the end of gun-related violence. Despite this action being prompted by the devastating mass-shootings occurring in America recently, Harry has always been passionate about the cause, displaying an “end gun violence” sticker on his guitar while performing in 2018.
Supporting charities and organisations isn’t new for Harry, who also raised $1.2 million on his 2018 tour, donating funds to local charities along every leg of his worldwide tour.
Harry also aims to create tours that are sustainable, conscious of the impacts of climate change. Partnering with REVERB, ‘Love on Tour’ featured an “Action Village” that enabled fans to ‘join Harry in working toward a better future for our planet and communities around the world.’ Reusable bottles with free water refill stations were promoted to avoid single-use plastics – an effort in place for fans, crew, and Harry. The tour prioritised waste reduction, waste diversion and carbon elimination and REVERBS’s impact report details the positive impact this climate-focused tour had.
World tours that focus on climate change and sustainability will become more prevalent over the next five years, with artists such as Billie Eilish, Coldplay and Shawn Mendes already following in Harry’s footsteps. Live music has always been a place to raise awareness, and funds, for communities that suffer the consequence of climate disasters and devastating incidents. Benefit concerts, from Live Aid (1985) to FireFight (2020) prove that fundraising initiatives based around live-music events positively impact the world we live in. When broadcast globally awareness is spread, as is the opportunity for international viewers to donate and support communities that so desperately need help.
The spirit of these one-off events is honoured in Harry Styles’ tours and can be felt every time a fan buys a ticket to his shows. It can be felt every time Harry takes to the stage.
Harry Styles is the future. There is no doubt about it. Over the next five years, more artists will follow in his footsteps, creating tours that are safe spaces for fans, sustainable and focused on the future. Charity organisations promoting important causes will be highlighted more in the live music scene, encouraging donations and awareness that promotes further action. The live-music scene will also benefit from “One Night Only” style concerns that celebrate music for what it is, a magical art form that unites people all over the world. Having the opportunity to listen to your favourite album performed live, from beginning to end, will re-define what it means for an artist to release an album.
Harry Styles will be at the forefront of future live music changes and the world will be a better place for it.
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