British boy band One Direction made their return stateside last night for a sold out show at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. But the real noise in the arena came from the thousands of screaming girls there to empty their lungs at each and every opportunity. (At one point a teen behind me screamed her brains out and then shrieked, “I don’t even know why I’m screaming!!!” I didn’t know either. One Direction was not scheduled to take the stage for another hour.)
When the band finally did appear and open with “Up All Night”— after an actual countdown clock complete with smoke, strobe lights, and video images of the boys frolicking in a tent — madness ensued. In between crooning favorites like “Live While We’re Young,” “Tell Me a Lie,” and “One Thing,” the band repeatedly expressed wonder at the venue and thanked fans for their support (both vocal and financial). “This place is bloody huge!” yelled Harry Styles. “This is absolutely crazy for everyone to join us from around the world.” Zayn Malik later added that, “I have never been so overwhelmed in my entire life.”
While the band stuck to a pretty strict script — sing, smile, run up and down giant ramps, thank fans, repeat — the members did take part in one bit of improvisation as they answered requests tweeted in by members of the audience. “What would you do if a chicken attacked you? Please demonstrate,” read one. This caused Liam Payne to run around the stage impersonating a chicken while confronting his somewhat amused and confused bandmates. That’s something you don’t see at a concert every day. At least I don’t. Other requests had the Brits impersonating New York City cab drivers (Zayn needs to work on his impression), and taking part in a contest to see who could jump the highest (Niall Horan won).
Of course, the biggest shrieks came with the following tweet: “If you were an animal, what would you be and what would your mating call sound like?” (I will refrain from reenacting One Direction mating calls for fear that our traffic server will explode.) After that tomfoolery was over, and after opening act Ed Sheeran joined the group to sing back-up on “Little Things”, and after the boys threw out autographs and jumped from the stage to get closer to the audience, the show finally closed with confetti as One Direction belted out their biggest hit, “What Makes You Beautiful.” Niall called the evening “the best night of our lives.” No doubt thousands of tween and teen girls — my daughter among them — agreed completely.