By DARISE FOSTER
One Direction knew that South Africa had been waiting for over a year to see them perform, and they did not disappoint. The British boy band entered the FNB Stadium in front of a 60 000-strong crowd ranging from ages five to 60 and made every person feel like they were in on an inside joke.
Accustomed, by now, to overly dramatic fans who weep as they sing every word to songs not normally heard on the radio, the boys quickly realised that this crowd had come to hear the singles.
Their solution? Ease off on stage antics, speak casually to the audience, and pick one another’s noses. Weird, yes, but how refreshing to watch a band so successful simply take in a moment and make the most of it. That is not to say they made of a joke of their performance. The (now) quartet’s voices are individually sensational and gel crisply when they sing together. But their attitude towards the performance drew the audience into their personalities, beyond their stage personae, and allowed for a true fan experience.
This was the first performance since Zayn Malik announced his departure from the group, but it did not feel that way. The group made no mention of him, the audience didn’t mind, and the show went on, and it went on well.
I did feel sorry for the performers when the golden circle crowd kept throwing objects onto the stage. At any given point, you could catch Liam politely dodging a bouquet of roses or a 1D badge. My favourite part was when an audience member threw her skirt onto the stage: Harry caught it and said to her, “I’m grateful young lady, but I fear you may regret this later,” and politely handed it back to her. I could just hear the thousands of mothers in the stadium murmuring, “I knew I liked these boys.”
The evening was topped off by a lengthy fireworks display, as the alleged “biggest band in the world” ended their second day in Johannesburg, with Niall carrying the South African flag across his back as he exited the stage. I’m reminded by something Harry said on stage: “We want to thank you all for your support. Without it, we definitely would not be able to play on this stage and we certainly would not be able to do it twice.” Beyond what their schoolgirl fanbase is squealing about, their talent is undeniable. And though they’re now one core member down, that fact still very much remains.