Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2018
Pic by Jackie Jet
“It’s like a beautiful dream being here,” announced vocalist Isabella Manfredi as Sydney outfit The Preatures gave an arena full of impressionable young gig-goers a schooling on what the awesome local scene has to offer.
With its playful guitar riffs, pop melodies and charismatic conviction, 2016’s I Know A Girl set the mood, while Magick utilised a steady, repetitive beat and simple hook.
The band’s trademark indie rock was right at home in Perth Arena as Ordinary kicked things up a notch, and the response to the tight opening riff of Is This How You Feel? proved they already had quite a few fans in attendance, all of which were ready to dance with Manfredi.
The band rounded out their set by paying tribute to “the elders, past and present”, with Yanada, a powerful single that was the result of a collaboration with an Indigenous community in Sydney.
As soon as the lights dropped for the headline act, impatient fans let out a collective screech that reached dangerous levels; a sound which the heavenly intro vocal harmonies of Only Angel struggled to break through.
Bouncing around the stage with ease, Harry Styles looked wildly different from the bright-eyed singer who graced the same stage five years early. He also sounded vastly different, with the rock opener placing more emphasis on guitar riffs and drums tones than vocals.
Woman introduced a classy, chunky musical onslaught to the mix, elevated by backing vocals from drummer Sarah Jones, while thick bass from Adam Prendergast and heavy keys courtesy of Clare Uchima provided a thundering backing track.
Styles was quick to pass the spotlight to guitarist Mitch Rowland, letting it be known it truly was a band effort, as evident when all members chimed in for the song’s big a cappella finish.
“I have one job tonight and that is to entertain you, and I will do my very best,” Styles said. “Feel free to be whoever you want to be in this room tonight.”
Implementing soaring five-part harmonies that would put One Direction to shame, Ever Since New York changed the pace again; its upbeat and communal feel bouncing off his previous sentiment about inclusivity.
Styles’ transformation as an artist was most apparent during Carolina, a song that places him more on the rock spectrum than pop, and a tune that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Aussie pub tour.
Quick to point out he only has one album and thus 10 songs, Styles assured fans there was more than enough fuel in the tank to keep the party alive, driving the gig to singalong number Stockholm Syndrome, breathing new life into the One Direction single before launching into a song he penned for Ariana Grande, Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart.
Fans were treated to an unreleased tune, Medicine, and its Australia debut was greeted with fans screaming the lyrics, no doubt thanks to countless bootlegs on YouTube already.
The new song was gritty and raw, with moody, calculated verses; big, fierce choruses and menacing guitar work, all promising exciting things to come.
Casually strolling through the venue to a stage at the back of the room (screams signalling exactly where he was at all times), Styles and Rowland serenaded punters in the nosebleed section with Sweet Creature and If I Could Fly.
Not one to focus on the past for too long, he rushed back to the front of the venue to unveil another new single, Anna, driven heavily by an acoustic rhythm and containing a snippet of George Michael’s Faith.
One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful was barely recognisable, with its light-hearted boy band chorus traded for an upbeat pop rock offering, while its verses were sung in a lower register that gave a darker tone to the lyrics and melody.
It was stadium rock hit Sign Of The Times that received the biggest cheer of the night; the venue once again illuminated by phone lights while a collective voice blew the roof off in its chorus.
Intimate encore number From The Dining Table had a similar impact, and while a surprise cover of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain wasn’t a crowd favourite, it was a welcome addition to those parents and unwilling guests who braved the front line in the name of love and friendship.
“If you haven’t been singing this whole time, that’s no problem. If you haven’t been dancing the whole time, that’s no problem…for the next five minutes, I need you to go crazy,” he yelled as the ‘77 classic broke out into an epic jam. His wishes were fulfilled as the final moments of rock’n’roll single and set closer Kiwi rolled around, reinforcing his status as a rock star.