With less than a week’s notice, Louis Tomlinson announced two special shows, one in NYC and one in London, to celebrate the release of his sophomore album, Faith In The Future. To ensure no scalpers got tickets, fans had to go through an application process on Ticketmaster to verify they were going to be the ones using the tickets to the show. Tickets were requested on Monday, and by Thursday, fans knew whether or not they were selected for their purchase to go through.
The anticipation to see the One Direction-member-turned-BritPop sensation was high, especially because the NYC show was at Irving Plaza, a venue that holds about 1,000 people, and getting to see Tomlinson in such an intimate venue is a treat for his fans. The opportunity to feel up close and personal with the singer was something fans didn’t want to miss out on. The night before the gig, a line had already formed outside of Irving Plaza. Fans huddled together on blankets and shared snacks, and one girl was even sleeping on a full-size air mattress outside the iconic venue.
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With 20 minutes until show time, the line to get into the venue still snaked around the block, but any signs of camping out the night before were long gone. Tomlinson and his band took the stage about half an hour later than expected so that all the fans could get into the venue. He looked like a well-dressed skater boy in a plaid collared sweater, what looks to be track pants and his signature just-rolled-out-of-bed hairstyle and started the set with “The Greatest,” the first song off his new album. The excitement from the crowd was palpable, but rather than losing their minds in the pit, it was a sea of cellphones shoved toward Tomlinson trying to capture every moment of the live debut of his second record.
[Photo by Joshua Halling]
The set didn’t just feature songs from Faith In The Future, though. Along with cuts from his debut, Walls, fans got to hear his unreleased song “Copy of a Copy of a Copy,” and of course, he wouldn’t deny them his BritPop rendition of One Direction’s “Night Changes,” a staple moment in a Tomlinson set. During his performance, the crowd seemed too mesmerized by being in his presence to really lose themselves in the music.
LGBTQIA+ fans have found a comfortable home supporting Tomlinson, and this support can be seen by a fair amount of rainbow flags waving in the crowd. His first single off Faith In The Future, “Bigger Than Me,” became a defacto anthem, taking on a special meaning to fans that can be felt in their response to it being performed.
[Photo by Joshua Halling]
Throughout the set, there was minimal fan engagement — other than Tomlinson flipping off a few fans who are being cheeky in the front few rows. Every time he tried to address the crowd, his clearly thought-out monologues get interrupted by fans trying to get one of his signature sassy responses out of him. When he does manage to be raw with the audience, he’s sentimental and seems almost surprised by how passionate his fans are about his music. He addressed the crowd with a moving speech about how he wouldn’t have his career without them, saying, “I would not be able to make this record without all of your support. I stand upon this stage and think of what’s to come and feel really fucking confident and really fucking proud, and that’s all thanks to you.”
While it’s expected for Tomlinson to feel like a seasoned performer given his time in the world-renowned boy band One Direction, his comfort level in his solo music shows a different side to the singer. This music feels more organic to Tomlinson, after all. His lyricism and vocal abilities were always destined for BritPop, and getting to see him become the rock star he was always destined to be is a treat for new and old fans alike.