Review: Harry Styles thrills during sold-out run at State Farm Arena

The cloth masks worn by fans hardly muffled their screams as Harry Styles took the stage Oct. 28 at State Farm Arena.

After two pandemic-related postponements, more than 20,000 fans eagerly found their way to the second of Styles’ two sold-out Atlanta performances.

In a prerecorded message, Styles thanked concertgoers for masking up and getting vaccinated against or tested for COVID-19 so that they could attend the show.

While as he said, “things might be a little different,” Styles’ requisite flair and penchant for showmanship went undiminished.

As did the enthusiasm of fans, who stretched out their hands, threw tokens of appreciation — including a hamburger hat — onto the stage and held up signs declaring their devotion (one read, “You’re the only man who has never disappointed me.”)

ExplorePhotos and review: Harry Styles at the Coca-Cola Roxy in 2017

Styles and his band played a 17-song set (including a three-song encore) that lasted about 90 minutes. The setlist included five songs from his self-titled debut and a single nod to One Direction (“What Makes You Beautiful”) sprinkled amongst 11 of the 12 tracks from “Fine Line,” Styles’ most recent album.

Ironically, the “Fine Line” track that was missing in action is “To Be So Lonely,” the absence of which has turned into a full-fledged meme among fans on social media. In Chicago last month, Styles was confronted by a small legion of fans holding signs that said simply, “Justice for TBSL.” According to Setlist.fm, he acquiesced and debuted a live rendition of the song that night. He has performed it only six times in 16 performances since Chicago.

Credit: Zack McGhee

Credit: Zack McGhee

High points of Thursday’s show included the midtempo love song “Adore You,” the soulful ballad “Falling,” and “Sunflower, Vol. 6,” which saw Styles chucking sunflowers into the crowd. As is his custom, he unfurled a rainbow pride flag at one point in the show, and a Black Lives Matter flag at another.

Because the show is performed in the round, Styles acknowledged early on that “there will be times where you’ll be looking at my face.” The crowd cheered. When he said there would also be times they would be looking at his...backside, they roared.

Harry’s style of arena touring is rare among pop icons, who will often lean into spectacle and stage production while preserving the sound familiar to fans from original recordings. That can result in a great show, but Styles’ approach is different.

ExplorePhotos and review: Harry Styles enchants at the Infinite Energy Center in 2018

He plays with a full band, commands an otherwise spare stage, and toys with the arrangements for even his most well-known songs. He also pays special attention to his fans, at one point asking the entire arena to sing “Happy Birthday” to Alex, a 19-year-old Emory University student at the show. Dancing around the stage, making sure to give equal time to all parts of the crowd, Styles always seemed to be having a ball.

An energetic rendition of “Lights Up” was followed by the promise of “15 straight minutes of dancing.” That stretch included the joyful-yet-bittersweet anthem “Treat People with Kindness,” derived from Styles’ life motto, abbreviated simply as “TPWK.”

“We’re going to sing one more song, and then we’re going to pretend the show is over,” he announced, before promising he would return to play several more. The three-song encore featured “Sign of the Times,” the Grammy Award–winning “Watermelon Sugar,” and the lively “Kiwi.”

“Love on Tour” follows “Live on Tour,” Styles’ first solo concert tour that spanned five continents in 2017 and 2018. After the pandemic scuttled plans for another globe-trotting tour to support Styles’ second album, ‘Fine Line,” “Love on Tour” is now finally making its way across these United States with support from opener Jenny Lewis.

Next, the tour is headed back to Madison Square Garden in New York for its fourth and fifth performances this month. Fans there are encouraged to dress in fancy clothes for “Harryween.”