There’s only One Direction

I wouldn’t call myself a Directioner or even a super fan of boyband One Direction, but that didn’t stop me from attending their final Birmingham show at the Barclaycard Arena on Monday 12th October.

News has spread like wildfire over the past six months of Zayn Malik’s decision to quit the band and then the revelation that after this tour and the release of their fifth album, Made in the A.M., that the band themselves (Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson) will be taking a hiatus for an unknown length of time.

So despite being almost 23 I was one of the many excitable fans at the event, queuing up for overpriced merchandise that I have no real need for. I’d never attended an event at the Barclaycard Arena before and I was actually pleasantly surprised by the ease of my two days spent in Birmingham.

Living in Bristol meant that me and two friends had to travel to the venue by train and navigate our way to the Travelodge (20 mins away) and then onto the arena (another 10 mins). We’re a group that are quite prone to getting lost but this time everything was so close and easy to find that we actually made great progress.



Having been to One Direction’s previous tour in 2014 at the Manchester Etihad Stadium I knew roughly what to expect. Last time it had been a bit of a trek to the stadium which resulted in a mammoth queue of fans, all trying to get the best standing position once inside.

As the Barclaycard Arena is all seated this meant no queues and we were able to arrive about an hour before the support act, Jamie Lawson, was due to appear with no queues, straight into the arena. Maybe it’s because fans of One Direction tend to be younger but the atmosphere was very relaxed. Even the merchandise stalls weren’t too busy and we were served and ready to find our seats within 10 minutes of arriving.

Once seated the atmosphere really picked up until Jamie Lawson appeared on the stage. By his own admission, and my own first thoughts upon seeing and hearing him, he is a mix between Ed Sheeran and James Blunt, not quite the type of act you would expect to see ahead of a band like One Direction. Lawson himself seemed likeable and was a decent singer but you couldn’t help but view him as suitable background music and it didn’t really put you in the right mood – though he did wisely sing a One Direction song that got the crowd going.

Following Lawson there was a half hour break before One Direction erupted onto the stage with all the vim and vigour that you expect from the young lads. Singing their way through their latest album Four and recreating many of the hits from third album Midnight Memories brought the roof off the arena and it was certainly the loudest gig I’d ever been to.

It wasn’t until the boys began to sing ‘Best Song Ever’, close to the end of the performance, that you actually noticed the absence of Malik. Well known within the band for producing some incredibly high notes these were audibly missing despite Payne giving his best efforts to produce them himself.

The music and singing from the band themselves was great; they are definitely a fantastic live band but some of the best moments came from their onstage interactions. Styles is well known for throwing water over the crowds and at one point a fan near the front of the stage threw his own water, drenching the long-haired star. Styles then made a point of bringing the lad closer to the stage to drench him back.

Another fan located near the stage was spoken to by Payne and after it was revealed that it was her birthday the entire arena burst into a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, something she’ll surely never be able to forget. And as it was the last performance of the Birmingham run Payne’s family (who all come from nearby Wolverhampton) were at the concert too. Styles made a special point of thanking Payne’s mother for letting the band have her son, then showing her on the big screen in floods of tears. And special mention also went to Mr Bishop, Payne’s old headteacher, who was seeing the band for the first time.

To some the One Direction hijinks are viewed as unprofessional, but it’s this that really makes the fans relate to them. With only a few songs left of their set Payne and Tomlinson decided that it was time for a water fight, progressing from small water bottles to what looked like a large washing up bowl completely full of water, breaking Payne’s iPhone in the process. Despite this tomfoolery they both continued to sing the songs with Horan hobbling out of the way, having fractured his foot a few weeks ago. The crowd went wild.

It was definitely an incredible night full of singing and dancing, followed swiftly by lost voices. By the end of the concert the boys had all thanked the fans for everything they had done for their career and there was a lingering sense of sadness as the realisation hit that it would most likely be their last ever night performing together in Birmingham.

For most hard-core fans it was probably an emotional night and for myself it was one that I definitely won’t forget. One Direction are unbelievably good live and despite often being seen as just another boy band fuelled by their young female fans they actually can really sing and produce some fantastic pop songs.

As their time as One Direction comes to a close there is no denying that they will all have strong careers in the future and anytime they decide to reunite they will be welcomed back with open arms by many.

After two hours of singing and shenanigans the concert came to an end with their debut single ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ and their new single ‘Drag Me Down’, showing the huge journey they have made over the past five years. I could honestly have sat and listened for days.

Are you a One Direction fan? Have you been to the boy’s last ever tour? Let us know in the comments below!