Niall Horan proves solo success at Mountain View concert

Skylar De Paul/Staff
Skylar De Paul / Staff

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Niall Horan brought his humble Irish charm to Mountain View last Saturday on the Bay Area leg of his “Flicker World Tour.” The former One Direction member filled the Shoreline Amphitheatre to the brim with fans eager to support his solo career — much to the surprise of the astounded young artist.

Horan walked onstage with amazement showing on his face and asked the audience members if they were really all there just for him, much to the swooning of the thousands who were obviously there for him. Throughout his show, Horan exhibited genuine humility and thankfulness for this and made sure to share the credit for his success. During pauses in the show, he interacted with the band members on stage, introducing each person’s name and hometown, and even giving his photographer a cute shoutout.

Horan’s duet with the opening act of the night, Maren Morris, was just about as precious as it gets. The voices of the two singers melted together like tea and honey as they performed “Seeing Blind” from Horan’s 2017 album, Flicker. Horan exuded Elvis Presley vibes the entire time, bringing a certain kind of magnetism to the stage as the two’s vibrant chemistry washed over the crowd.

One of the songs Horan performed later was a live-show exclusive called “So Long,” which didn’t make it onto the album. Horan’s excuse for discarding the song was that it was “not good at all,” but he then worked the song into a version he felt was better performed live than recorded in a studio. Sitting behind a piano, Horan pulled on heartstrings as his guitarist, Jake Curran, streamed groovy, atmospheric inflections.

Fans brought their hearts out to support Horan at this show — literally. As he performed “Flicker,” audience members across the venue held up small, heart-shaped pieces of paper with the words “you are my flicker of hope” typed across them. This was a welcome change from the cellphone flashes. For this performance, Horan asked audience members to stow away their phones and be in the moment.

A slow melody swept across the crowd as Horan sang the sweet ballad, a chorus of fans singing along. The audience connection was beautiful as the crowd focused on watching the performance live rather than living through a phone screen. The violinist of Horan’s band, Conor Masterson, gave a heavenly tone to the song as his gentle chords matched the intimate mood of the lyrics.

The show could not end without at least one One Direction song making the set list for the night. Performing “Fool’s Gold” and “Drag Me Down,” nostalgia ran rampant throughout the audience. Horan’s folky, acoustic style was well-supported by “Fool’s Gold,” which holds that classic Irish folk tone that Horan tends to fit into his music. While “Drag Me Down” may have been lacking the richness of the original song, Horan was able to make the track sound just as full without the One Direction boys.

Horan made sure to cover more than just old One Direction songs, however, throwing in a rendition of “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen. He introduced the song by saying, “Everyone’s going to know it,” but it became apparent very quickly that the ex-boy band member’s audience was, in fact, a crowd of teenage girls who were largely unfamiliar with the extensive work of Springsteen. The moms in the crowd, however, seemed to be having the best of times.

In his show, Horan confirmed that he doesn’t need to be part of a group of angelic-sounding heartthrobs forever in order to be successful in the music industry. Owning his acoustic style, bringing his quirky-cute attitude to the stage and maintaining his humility even in the spotlight looked better on him than any matching outfits and coordinated dance routines from his past ever could have.

Contact Skylar De Paul at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Zayn Malik sang in the One Direction song “Drag Me Down.” In fact, the song was recorded after Malik’s departure from the band.