There is no rest for the Harry Styles fandom. This was never truer than in the agonizing months leading up to the release of his third album, Harry’s house. There was the cryptic, Hansel and Gretel– a trickle of clues in March: Twitter and Instagram messages from @YouAreHome waving at an arched doorway; the subsequent 7 p.m. release of the lead single, “As It Was,” an exquisite blend of synth and sadness that offered a glimpse of Styles’ new sonic direction and a bop I yearn to wear gold lamé hot pants and roller skates. Hours have been wasted on the ingenious Better homes and gardens cover, with Styles dipped in a pond or something wearing a mallard sweater and boxer shorts; not to mention the daily delights of @harrysflorals on Instagram. Styles’ sorcery knows no bounds, but it all came to a head on Friday at midnight with the arrival of Harry’s house, an album that gloriously references yacht rock and Prince falsettos, but is rooted in a vulnerability and sincerity that is all Harry.
We transported those months of tremulous anticipation and admiration to the UBS Arena in Elmont, New York on Friday night. What is normally the home of New York Islanders was, for that rainy night, filled with a swirl of psychedelic-print bell bottoms, satin, marabou-feather-trimmed pajamas and downward-slanting black-cherry white claws. ceiling. Only at “One Night Only in New York” will Styles perform all 13 tracks from the new album the same day it is released, a rare and special treat that has fans in Kentucky, Tampa and Cleveland paying $40. Spirit Air flights and in AirBnbs in Queens. Some of their husbands earned points with UBS seat invitations; ingenious teenage fan from Huntington, Long Island pretended to be sick at school so she could eavesdrop Harry’s house at the nurse’s office. We all buzzed in our seats before the show as David Bowie’s ‘Suffragette City’ played overhead, but because Styles is all about inclusion, we weren’t the only ones lucky enough to see ‘One Night Only”: it was also streaming on Apple Music.
The sound of birds chirping above our heads told us Styles was near, and with the fall of a huge black tarp to reveal a neon outline of his album’s titular house, he launched into the contagious and funky “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” (a song that serves as Huey Lewis allusions to me). We shouted; We jumped; we all salivated. “Make some noise if you already know the words,” he said, and much of the crowd did, including the girls in our section who taped them to the backs of their signs. The chant of “Late Night Talking”, first introduced in Styles’ Coachella sets, was briefly interrupted by a man shouting “Get naked!” in our transcendent host.
As massive as his audience was – both in person and virtually – Styles made the arena intimate during interludes when he thanked his frequent collaborators, including Kid Harpoon (aka singer-songwriter-producer Tom Hull) before “Little Freak”, a spiritual sequel to the melancholy Thin line songs like “Cherry”. It was a song they wrote together in Tokyo a few years ago, Styles said, in one of his all-time favorite musical experiences: “Just two friends in a hotel room not doing what you think two friends in a hotel room could do. The necessary lights from the phone instead of the lighters came on, and Styles’ chorus chant resonated so well in the arena: “I was thinking about who you are / your tricky point of view / I was thinking about you.” Little many people aspire better than him, but the best part was seeing Styles nod at the end – a private little moment in a huge space. He was proud. The phone lights went out, however, during “Matilda,” a searing song instantly hailed as a “heartbreaking masterpiece” by rolling stone for his tribute to a friend who suffered family trauma. “If there’s anyone in the audience that feels like that applies to them,” Styles said, “it does.”