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Concert Reviews:
One Direction concert doubles as Liam Payne birthday party at Ford Field
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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DETROIT -- A One Direction concert is an exciting prospect all by itself -- at least to the legion of young, nearly all female fans who turned out for the British pop group's show on Saturday night, Aug. 29, at Ford Field.

But if that wasn't enough, there was the fact it was 1D's first swing through town as a quartet, following Zayn Malik's departure earlier this year, and the group's first concert since confirming last week that it planned on taking a year off starting in March.

And if that still wasn't enough, Saturday was also group member Liam Payne's 22nd birthday. celebrated with all the attendant revelry his three bandmates and the note-quite-sellout crowd could muster.

So the subplots had subplots for 1D's second consecutive year at Ford Field, but despite all that the two-hour show was primarily what we've come to expect since the group started coming here in 2012 (at the Fox Theatre) -- plenty of anthemic, group-sung hits, casual choreography, some good-natured, hijinks, a lavish production laced with pyrotechnics, lasers and extensive video and lengthy expressions of gratitude from all four members for the role its Detroit fans have played in 1D's global success.

Payne even went so far as to declare the Ford Field faithful the loudest crowd on the tour so far, assuring them that, "You win!"

The birthday boy was, of course, the star of the show. "It's Liam's birthday," groupmate Harry Styles bellowed before the third song, "Little Black Dress," and Payne himself noted shortly after that, "I can see a lot of signs for my birthday...Do you mind if I celebrate it with you? I hope you have as good a time as I'm about to have." There was no cake, but the other three members led the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" to Payne late in the show, presenting him with a glittery silver top hat and a champagne-like bottle that ejected confetti when it opened.

And during the encores Louis Tomlinson doused Payne with a high-powered water gun repeatedly until he was soaked, while Payne retaliated with Silly String.

All of this occurred amidst a 25-song set that drew primarily from last year's "Four" and 2013's "Midnight Memories," and also included the urban-flavored "Drag Me Down," the first single from 1D's upcoming fifth album, which is as-yet untitled and due out during November. The crowd -- which was feted with ads for tour sponsor Honda's college graduate program even though the vast majority aren't yet beyond middle school -- sang along to every word and unleashed waves of concussive screams for each member's appearance on the video screen.

That happened before the show, too, drowning out the four singers' spoken messages about its Action 1D charitable organization.

And save for a more than one-hour gap between opening act Augustana and 1D, it was a night of exuberant fandemonium, stoked even further by Payne's birthday. There was no apparent sadness or regret about the upcoming hiatus, either; Styles and Niall Horan, in fact, both spoke about hoping to see the fans again "soon." And for the supposed loudest crowd on the tour, that time probably won't come soon enough.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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