Harry Styles: Live On Tour // Manchester 2018

Some moments, some experiences, are just so overwhelmingly perfect that it's impossible to describe them using words. Some days, some nights of your life just feel like such an amalgamation of everything you could've possibly ever wanted that trying to explain how incredible they were to someone else is too difficult.
On 9th April 2018, a day I had been counting down to for so long that I never thought it would come, arrived: Harry Styles, live on tour in Manchester Arena. I thought that, after seeing him live in 2017, I would be somewhat prepared for his arena show in 2018...but oh how wrong I was. Because, you see, no matter how many times I see him live or how many hours of my life I spend crying over his existence, I'll never be mentally, physically or emotionally prepared to be in his presence. Nevertheless, I headed to Manchester, decked out in merchandise, fully ready to have an unbelievable night.

Admittedly, I was nervous about the show, what with it taking place in Manchester Arena and this being my first time there since it was attacked. I had no reason to be nervous, as I knew the staff viewed public safety as paramount and, once I was there, I would have the time of my life. However, that didn't stop the hairs on my arms from standing on end as I walked through the venue, nor did it stop the uneasy tension from being palpable in the air between the crowds. This felt like a lot more than just a Harry Styles concert - it felt like an opportunity to pay tribute to the 22 lives no longer with us, especially as the audience consisted mainly of young girls. This was a chance for an army of strong individuals to look fear in the eye and say, "You'll never win." It was a chance for us to live in the moment whilst supporting and uplifting one another. It was a chance to just fully experience and appreciate the magic that is music and all it does for our world.
Harry performed the first Ariana Grande song to be sang in that venue since May last year, Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart - a track he wrote for her a few years ago. Fans, myself included, took this song as an opportunity to remember the victims of that tragic night by holding up posters dedicated to the 22. To see a sea of people so joined and so passionate about something was very emotional and it reminded me how good the souls of music lovers are. I was proud to be a Harry fan and it made me proud of everyone else in there. It was yet another bit of proof that love always comes out on top and the air was filled with nothing but love that night. Harry too gave a beautiful speech beforehand, saying how the song meant a lot to him, especially singing it in the arena, and that he stands with Manchester.  I feel honoured to have been in that arena on that night, an arena which has given me my happiest memories. It was an emotional, powerful show and one which shall stay with me forever.

From start to finish, I was utterly mesmerised. This was so much more than a concert, it was an experience, and one I was never going to have again so I truly wanted to treasure it. It was an hour and a half of pure escape as, for that period of time, nothing else in the world mattered and any worries I had were left outside of those four walls. Harry created the most beautiful space filled with warmth and compassion. He allowed me to free myself of the shackles of what the world expects me to be and just exist in a moment without shame or regret. I needn't think about who was watching me as I danced like crazy or who was judging my undoubtedly questionable singing. All I needed to do was enjoy myself and fall in love with the human before me as he had the time of his life, doing what he loves more than life itself.
Harry concerts are so much more than a show, they are life affirming experiences which fill me with such purpose and I leave feeling full of life and happiness. They remind me that I matter, that there is always a place for me and somewhere for me to call home. His concerts are places of strong support and unity, places where you can feel connected by blood to strangers you've never met, all thanks to his big heart and good music. Harry concerts are for anyone and everyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, shape, size, gender or sexuality. Everyone belongs there.

It meant more than I could ever articulate for me to be in that arena. As a One Direction and Harry fan for almost eight years now, I have watched him grow, evolve, make mistakes, learn, achieve and shine like the star he is for almost half of my life. Therefore, I loved supporting him on this night, looking up at my best friend as he shared his talents with 20,000 besotted fans. It meant the world to see him physically glowing and radiating happiness out of his every pore, because, you see, when someone who fills your life with indescribable amounts of happiness, is happy themselves, it is pretty much the best feeling in the world. To see him free, not caring what anyone thought as he pranced around in his pink suit, waving pride flags, screaming and going wild, that was so precious. To see him at peace, feeling safe and looking healthy was special. One of my only wishes in life is for him to realise how remarkable he is, although, I doubt that will ever happen.
What manifested between those walls for the time he was on stage isn't something I could explain to you if you weren't there, it is simply an energy you have to feel through your bones. He sparked an electric atmosphere from the moment he walked on stage and the music kicked in. He has nothing to prove and never need explain himself for anything, however, if anyone in that room had any doubts about his ability to put on a show, they would've been absolutely cleared. This man is just one of a kind, you don't stumble upon people like him on the streets every day when walking to the shops. He was born to entertain, he was born to have a spotlight on him. He deserves the universe and, if I could wrap it up in a box and give it to him, believe me, I would.

His show in Manchester on that Monday night had too many highlights for me to name. The whole thing was one big highlight. Although, I guess the biggest highlight was him home and feeling so happy to be back in Manchester, a place he'll always hold in his heart and enjoy coming back to. He laughed lots and he lit up the entire room with his beaming smile. Harry loves Manchester and I love Harry in Manchester.

Every song was perfect and just as incredible as I could've hoped for. Only Angel? Iconic. Two Ghosts? Harrowing. Meet Me In The Hallway? Stunning. From The Dining Table? Heartbreaking. What Makes You Beautiful? Incredible. Woman? Gorgeous. Carolina? You get my point...

However, a stand out moment certainly came in the form of If I Could Fly, the 1D track Harry penned for their fifth album in 2015 and the one he's now performing solo. Those three minutes were absolutely heavenly, as he stood there, surrounded by flashlights, with nothing but an acoustic guitar, duetting with the crowd on such a special song. I felt so proud to be a One Direction fan in that moment and got chills hearing my fellow fans sing the lyrics so loudly to a person who they consider to be their home. Truly, it was magical, especially knowing how much the song means to Harry. I felt his entire soul in each breath he took.

Another stand out song was, of course, Sign Of The Times, as I shall never tire of listening to Harry sing it or, nor will I tire of the pure passion he pours into every note as he does. Monday marked one year and two days since Harry released his debut single and to be there as he sang it to a sold out arena of 20,000+ people on his second solo world tour was a real proud feeling. This song uplifts me and it fills me with such hope. It fills me with self believe, it fills me with love, it reminds me of my purpose on this Earth. I shall forever be astounded at how remarkable it truly is because songs as magical as this one don't just pop up on the radio every day.

Harry didn't hesitate in telling the crowd that he "only has ten songs," however, he also played two which may have sounded unfamiliar to someone who doesn't follow his every move online. Medicine and Anna were tracks that didn't make the final cut of his debut album but, after hearing him perform them, surely anyone would've been left wondering HOW THE HELL NOT? I could not wait to hear these tracks live, especially after I'd already downloaded many versions of them to my phone after all of his shows so far and learnt the lyrics so well I could sing the songs backwards. Medicine is the ultimate rock song with some gorgeous LGBTQ+ lyrics such as "treat you like a gentleman" and "the boys and the girls are in, I mess around with him and I'm okay with it." You can bet your bottom dollar I screamed along like crazy with this one. Anna, on the other hand, is slightly more mellow and Harry played it on his guitar. Well, I say mellow, but it's still a BOP. Oh, it also samples Faith by George Michael as Harry sang the words "I guess it would be nice if I could touch your body."

The show closed in the most perfect way possible... with Kiwi, aka, probably the most iconic song ever written, (that isn't up for discussion, sorry). I took this opportunity to well and truly lose all of my inhibitions, to dance like no one was watching and to scream like a wild animal. I jumped around and I had the time of my life as a water spitting, air punching, hair shaking Harry Styles did exactly the same on the stage in front of me. Those three minutes were probably the freest I have ever been in my whole life.

The concert wasn't just all singing though, oh no. I mean, would it even be a Harry Styles concert if he didn't pick out a fan from the crowd to wish them a happy birthday? If he didn't pick out a guy and give him a compliment? If he didn't make fun of fans or mock their dancing? Would it even be a Harry Styles concert if he didn't thank the audience a million times, blow them countless kisses and tell him he loves them? No, of course not. Harry Styles doesn't just go on stage to sing. Yes, he's a fantastic showman and he oozes charm and character, however, he also uses his time on stage to spread love, to make people laugh who, perhaps, haven't laughed in a long time, and to provide them with a night they will never forget, regardless of whether they're a devout fan or not.

The show seemed to end just as quickly as it started and it wasn't long before my heart ached from sadness and I began to miss Harry more than anything. If I could live at his show forever, I happily would do so, as it feels more like home than any building I've ever been in. That is my happy place, with my happy person.

Every now and again, people come into our lives who move us and occupy a space in our hearts. However, Harry Styles is a real a rarity. No one makes me smile like he does, no one makes me laugh as hard, no one makes me cry as much, no one makes me feel as deeply or inspires me like he does. No one makes me feel as supported, as safe, as free or as understood as he does. No one injects light into my life like he does or fills dark spaces with hope and positivity in the way that only he can. No one feels more like a best friend, despite the fact that we have never met, and no one fills me with pride like him. Since coming into my life, he has made every day brighter. Thanks to his music, his humour, his talents, his weirdness, his kind heart and soul, I feel so much more complete as a person. I feel like I have a purpose because of him. I often wonder if he knows how special he is or if he knows how much his existence is treasured... each day I wake up is because of the magic he creates simply by being who he is. I could never articulate how thankful I am for him, nor could I properly thank him for all that he is and all that he does. He helps me believe in myself, he helps me accept myself, he helps me learn, he helps me grow, he helps me set myself free from the cage that is society, he helps me live my life to the fullest without regrets and to love loudly without shame. He saves me. I absolutely ADORE him with every inch of my being and I feel incredibly lucky to exist at the same time as him. I consider it a great honour to be his fan because he is nothing less than my entire life. I owe him so much as I would be nothing without him...

It sounds pathetic, it sounds childish, it sounds strange, to care so deeply about someone you've never met and someone who you can only connect with via social media or through their music. In the grand scheme of things, I know absolutely nothing about him and, well, he doesn't even know I exist, which is what makes the whole thing even more insane. Not everyone will understand but, just because they don't understand, that doesn't make me crazy... because, I have something, someone in my life who fills a gap and makes me smile and who makes me the best version of me... and something someone else is unable to understand could be the most important thing in the world to the person they are judging. I think everyone deserves to have someone in their lives who makes them feel as complete as Harry makes me feel.

So, that's it. No more Harry Styles concerts to count down to, no more seeing Harry in the flesh to look forward to for a while... but know that as soon as an opportunity arises for me to be in his presence once more, I shall grab it tightly with both hands. I will be eternally grateful for 9th April, (even though it'll never sink in that I was there) and the indescribable joy that was brought to me by my favourite person in the world, for whom my heart bursts with pride, respect and adoration.

Oh, and take your Dad to a Harry Styles concert... he'll love it, promise. ;)

Love, Emily xx

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