“What a beautiful bunch of singers” professed Irish pop star Niall Horan, addressing the crowd chanting along to Fool’s Gold, a fan-favourite from his One Direction period.
By all accounts, those days are all but gone. Or so it seemed. With his Flicker world tour underway, screaming girls remain while the boy band harmonies have been swapped for solo acoustic anthems. Walking out to wild adoration at Toronto’s Budweiser Stage, Horan came decked out in jeans, t-shirt and a guitar slung across his shoulder. Parents in attendance – and there were many – stood by their teenage daughters like protective mama bears, enjoying the music the best they could.
Delivering the soft combo of You and Me and Since We’re Alone, Niall’s sound embraced a Sheeran-meets-Mumfords flavour. The strumming was heartfelt with outstretched arms vying for affection. Truth be told, he is the only ex-Direction member who seems genuinely humble that his fan-base is now smaller. Brandishing an in-it-for-the-music demeanor, Niall performed a cover of Dancing In The Dark, lending context between his evening attire of blue-collar threads and the Bruce Springsteen classic.
Chugging along with a wide smile, he projected a relaxed charisma to the crowd, boasting his fondness for Canada while introducing his prominently Irish band mates. Playing his newest album in full, Niall’s husky voice made for a worthy companion to the balmy September night.
Concluding the 18-song set with three encore numbers, there was a distinctive feeling of emotions. In a sense, it was as if Niall was saying goodbye to the past while looking ahead to the future – all the while playing music he truly loved