Harry Styles’ coming-out party at the Forum: review

It was the Harry Styles show, but Serena almost stole it.

Serena, a young fan with close-cropped hair and open eyes, was the Styles audience member selected for a repeat Sunday night — as the pop superstar opened a historic series of 15 sold-out concerts at the Kia Forum in Inglewood — for the bit in which he helps someone in his audience come out as gay.

“Do you want to do that?” Styles asked her after glancing at the handwritten sign she was holding. “Secure? There’s no rush.” ​​Well-trained by this point in Styles’ touring career, a cameraman found a close-up of Serena to project onto the giant video screens above the Forum’s stage, where the 17,000 or so in the room could see her nodding in agreement; Styles, who had requested a feather boa from a fan in the front row, reminded everyone how the bit works — “If that boa gets lifted over my head, you’re out,” he said — and then asked for a drum roll.

What happened next only lasted about 10 seconds as Styles teasingly waved the brace higher and higher. (“Edging!” yelled an audience member, referring to the orgasm delay technique, which made the singer laugh.) But the look on Serena’s face in that close-up, one hand covering her mouth in overwhelming excitement, seemed like the whole story to tell of her life. She and her eyes could easily have filled the forum screens for another hour.

Styles’ role in Serena’s coming out was obviously self-aggrandizing; As altruistic as its goals were, it took the 28-year-old’s position of cultural power for granted — and only reinforced it. And given the year he’s had, it’s no wonder: Harry’s House, Style’s third solo album following his stint in British boy band One Direction, is one of the biggest hits of 2022, with numerous high-profile Grammy nominations set as are expected next month. He is starring in two films currently in theaters, Don’t Worry Darling (directed by his girlfriend Olivia Wilde) and My Policeman. And his extended stint in Los Angeles follows an earlier 15-night performance at New York’s Madison Square Garden, as well as a headlining performance at April’s Coachella festival, where he played Billie Eilish and The Weeknd performed through November 15 to about the same number of people that Styles will entertain on the forums alone.

Styles sauntered onto the stage on Sunday in a palm-tree-decorated jacket and blindingly white pants, unleashing a roar that could both be felt and heard.

still how It was fascinating to watch him wield his fame. A Harry Styles gig, as he told the crowd shortly after his 90-minute set, is a place where you “feel free to be who you’ve always wanted to be”; Fans have taken his words as encouragement to express a range of sexual and gender identities — sometimes, as with Serena, in public for the first time — even as his own reluctance to be explicit about his sexuality (while happily toying with gender-biased fashion) . has led to allegations of queerbaiting. At The Forum, where Styles was backed by a funky six-piece band, Serena wasn’t the only sign-waving onlooker who the singer offered both a signal boost and a little reassurance about life choices — though he did gently scold a woman for claiming she had the Therapy left out for the concert.

“That’s a sign the people of LA don’t approve of, Emily,” he told her with a mischievous grin. “Because what do we know, LA? You. Never. Skip. Therapy.”

You can view this conspicuous preoccupation with his fans’ needs as Style’s way of compensating for a somewhat bland personality. And indeed, to compare Harry’s House to his former romantic partner Taylor Swift’s just-released Midnights is to admit that you know extremely little about Styles’ real life (or how he tackles much-talked-about topics like his sees relation to Wilde). Yes, he spreads charisma like a fire hose; no, he couldn’t be sexier if he tried. But his music tends towards abstraction and distraction, both by keeping his lyrics somewhat vague and using nostalgic sounds and textures – shrill ’60s folk, crunchy ’70s rock, shimmering ’80s pop – with built-in emotional responses.

The notable exception is when he’s telling other people’s stories: a highlight of Harry’s House and the Forum show – which paired material from the new album with oldies like “Adore You” and “Kiwi” and a fuzzy rendition of 1D’s “What.” Makes You Beautiful” – was “Matilda”, a parsimonious acoustic ballad in which he convinces an abused girlfriend that she is justified in turning off the family members who have harmed her. Again, Styles’ job in Matilda undeniably casts him in a heroic light. But as he described her pain, the empathy in his voice was strong and true — stronger and truer than in the confident flirtation of “Watermelon Sugar” and “Late Night Talking” and the cryptic introspection of “Sign of the Times” and the Chart – Topping “As it was”. The final song, which rides a decent synth groove on “Harry’s House,” got some serious bloat here, as if Styles had the venue’s classic rock history on his mind.

Is it too generous to wonder if Styles’ pop star’s radical goal might be to take the focus off of herself? His poorly-rated film performances certainly raise the possibility that he’s trying to convey a fully formed character in his music and just can’t manage it. But that’s not the conclusion that Sunday’s heartwarming concert left for you. What you thought about — more than just horny pick-up lines or a perfect haircut or even those glitzy pants — was generosity.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-10-24/harry-styles-forum-opening-night-concert-review Harry Styles’ coming-out party at the Forum: review

Sarah Ridley

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