'One Direction, Rod Laver Arena' – Everguide

Teenage girls are easy to sell to. They’re catty and competitive. They’re apathetic and narcissistic. They’ll latch onto any passing trend (and then ditch it the moment something better comes along).

These, and every other generalisation about adolescent girls, are put to rest the moment you enter a One Direction concert and you realise how wrong you are to dismiss their power and energy.

Off the backs of millions of Tweets, thousands of Tumblr blogs, and countless camping sessions outside hotels, venues and studios, five starry-eyed teenage boys were propelled from small towns in the UK and Ireland the world’s biggest stadiums. And it’s their fans who were responsible for that happening so quickly — something Harry, Louis, Zayn, Niall and Liam won’t ever let them forget. 

Three years after their solo auditions on X Factor UK, One Direction have sold out eight shows at Rod Laver Arena on the tail-end of an eight-month world tour spanning dozens of countries and including over 100 shows. Every single one of them sold out in a matter of minutes over 18 months ago. Not exactly what you’d call a disposable trend.

I constantly feel the need to rattle off numbers like these to validate my own interest in the band, to prove their worth to people who raise an eyebrow at the Harry sticker on my work computer or ask me how old they are. (For the record – Harry is the youngest at 19; Louis, nearing 22, is the oldest. I’m 23. IT’S NOT WEIRD.) 

But their concert last night – my first time seeing them live after more than a year of digesting as many video interviews, songs, live clips, gif sets and magazine spreads as I could find – put an end to the justifying and self-judgment. 

With almost 15,000 fans packed inside, Rod Laver Arena was a hive of excitement, puberty, handmade t-shirts, and feelings so intense you could almost smell them. It’s been said – by both teen girl oracle Tavi Gevinson and 1D’s own Harry – that teenagers obsess so easily because they’re feeling and experiencing everything for the first time. Never was this truer than last night, when girls clutched and shrieked at one another intermittently, before the band even appeared, as the ad for One Direction’s perfume played on the big screens. What these girls felt, watching the clip alone on YouTube in their bedrooms, was amplified and shared with thousands of other people who got it. When Harry winks and Niall cackles and Liam grins – they understand how those things makes you feel and they’re not going to make you explain it. 

The show itself – like any stadium tour – followed the same setlist as the previous 90-something shows One Direction have done this year alone. At this point, the timings and choreography (as in, where they need to be on stage; the band are pointedly and proudly anti-choreographed dance routines and matching outfits like boy bands past) must be second-nature, and yet the mischievous play fights, ridiculous banter and song dedications all felt incredibly genuine and spontaneous. 

Just a few songs in, Liam shared his sadness over missing the funeral of his grandfather, who passed away the day he arrived in Australia last week. He dedicated 'More Than This' to him, and his performance of the opening lines ("I’m broken, do you hear me? / I’m blinded, cos you are everything I see/ I’m dancing alone / I’m praying that your heart will just turn around") was heartbreaking.

Running at two hours, the show covered nearly all of One Direction’s two albums to date (their third, Midnight Memories, is out next month), as well as a few minutes dedicated to fan questions submitted over Twitter and a survey of the handmade posters and signs fans clutched desperately (three girls near me had the most amazing set of signs between them: "Welcome to 'Stralya", "This sign is dedicated to all fans who didn't get tix" and "KISS ME I'M LEGAL" (she wasn't)).

The show might have sold out over a year ago, but passion for band has not waned at all in the time since then. If anything, the wait only intensified the passion and adoration the fans feel for their god-like heroes and crushes. Even the fans who missed out on tickets and stood outside the venue, their phones pressed against the locked doors, sang along to every word. They’re who this is all for; if you don’t care or don’t get it, it’s okay. It doesn’t matter to us, anyway.

Published on Everguide, October 2, 2013.