Ex One Direction member Harry Styles kicked off the UK leg of his tour last Sunday and it was met with dangerous scenes of camping, cramped conditions and dehydration.
Although the opening show was on Sunday you’d be forgiven for thinking it started five days earlier with fans camping out from the Tuesday before on street corners.
Harry announced his solo world tour back in April of this year and tickets sold out in seconds. There was no doubt from the get go that this tour would be crazy, especially considering the hype which always surrounded One Direction.
My friend and I were some of the lucky ones who managed to get standing tickets to see him at the Eventim Apollo. Yes, the Eventim Apollo, formally known has the Hammersmith Apollo. I was surprised that with the following Harry Styles has he decided to hold his tour in such intimate venues. Now, don’t get me wrong being able to see him in such a small venue was an amazing experience but hyped up fans and a small space like that doesn’t add up to a perfect concert.
Myself and Sofia (that friend I mentioned) arrived at the venue two hours before the doors opened, fully aware that people would have been there from the early hours of the day. We knew it would be busy and we’d be quite far back in the queue but when we arrived we were hit with scenes we never expected to see.
The railings that were set up for queuing had sleeping bags and duvets. There were tents and hundreds of duvets sprawled out underneath a bridge, just inches away from the road. When you sit back and realise that a lot of his fans are young girls you begin to imagine how desperate these scenes were.
While queuing we were millimetres away from the road with taxis and cars rushing past. Girls and their parents were aimlessly wandering on the road looking for the back of the queue, constantly being beeped at by frustrated taxi drivers.
After two hours of queuing we were let into the Apollo. I’ve been to many concerts and I know this is meant to be the hectic part – hundreds of girls running to get the best view – but it was actually calm. The calm before the storm you might say. Sofia and I strolled to the standing area and established our place.
Slowly but surely, we noticed pressure from all sides. The space we had established started to close in on itself quickly. We started to pray we wouldn’t need the toilet because there was no way we’d be returning to this now sacred space. I got on my tiptoes and tried to see where the crowd ended, but I couldn’t see anything but a sea of fans. Girls were standing outside the doors as there wasn’t enough space in the standing area.
Then it happened.
The spotlight came on, Harry Styles’ silhouette appeared and as the curtain fell hundreds of girls ran forward. I know it’s an overused metaphor but genuinely, I have never felt more like I was in a can of sardines.
The heat started to rise, partly because Harry Styles was in the room, but mainly because the Apollo is not built for a concert of this size. Sofia was wearing plastic leather trousers and if anyone was able to judge the heat it was her. Within minutes of the concert starting she leaned over and shouted in my ear: “These trousers were a mistake.”
Other girls started to feel the heat, one by one girls started to drop like flies. One girl fainted and Harry had to stop the concert, then another and then a final two. There were desperate scenes as fans who surrounded the casualties screamed for help, flashing their torches on their phones in the hope that Harry might see and call attention to them.
Security were climbing over the fans trying to get the seemingly lifeless girls out of the crowd. It got to the point where free water had to be handed out to the girls at the front to help fight the risk of fainting.
Fans started to leave half way through the concert, probably trying to escape the heat. It seemed that a man who girls were willing to camp out for wasn’t worth the risk of fainting.
So what was the problem? I don’t think there was anything that could have been done about girls camping out. Fans who are as passionate as Harry’s will always do crazy things. The problem was how may tickets were sold. The Apollo holds 5,039 people. The standing tickets should have been halved, allowing fans more space to move and for the heat to not get as high.
Perhaps the ultimate and simplest solution is that Harry Styles shouldn’t be holding concerts in small venues and maybe to some extent it was irresponsible of him to do so.
The ultimate question though is whether I’d go again and the answer is, of course. However much I hated the heat and the cramped space I would go again in a heartbeat if there was a chance of seeing Harry Styles.