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A Love Letter to Love On Tour: A Reflection on 173 of Harry Styles's Shows


Photography by Emil Rothacker


With Love on Tour having come to an end, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the 23-months run of one of the most commercially successful tours ever, as well as the joys and trepidations of life in the wonderfully warped fandom sphere I have spent the past six years in. As a massive Harry Styles enthusiast, and someone whose life has been affected in so many ways by the experiences I have made through being a fan, the end of this tour has hit me a little harder than I had initially expected.


I attended twelve Love on Tour shows in the span of twelve months, which must sound mad to any sane person. But, in this sweet and salty Twitter bubble me and my friends move in, it is a shockingly average amount. Let me try to explain. Once you start going to these shows, it gets very hard to stop. There is something that became almost addictive to me about the feeling of my heart inflating when dancing to the music I love most, together with the people I love most. Almost like taking drugs. But with less of a health risk to it.


I went to see Harry with my best friends I met in primary and middle school, with people I had met three weeks prior and who stayed in my flat for ten days after finding out we were all going to the same shows in London, with my mother, with people I had met in front of or inside the venue the day of. There is this undeniable feeling of togetherness and community that binds us all together. Everyone is just so excited, so genuinely happy to be there. Personally, I wouldn’t ever want to be anywhere else if I was given the choice, and I think there is no small number of people that would agree.


While I have never met him, in my head we are on a first name basis. Every night he introduces himself to the audience with the words “Hi, I’m Harry.” So, Harry it is.


There is something magical about all the little things that connect us. The with-sequin-bedazzled outfits; everyone’s shared enthusiasm over every single coming out Harry moderates on stage alongside some per-fan-request-improvised sparkly-bi-music, every gender reveal he excitedly presents, every chat in between songs he has with fans in the front, the Adidas Gazelle trainers affectionately called Satellite Stompers, and the incontrovertible mania surrounding absolutely every- and anything Harry. He has the ability to bring everyone together in a way I have yet to experience elsewhere. I have loved getting to be part of something so wonderful.


In ‘Matilda’ Harry sings “You can start a family who will always show you love” and Love On Tour does feel like that; a family, a space for all the emotions, all the love, where everyone's the same, everyone is welcome, everyone gets to dance. Where no one is alone. Where everyone willingly lies down on the ground during the sad songs to cry, just a little.


Anyone who has seen Harry Styles live in concert can testify to how extraordinary of an atmosphere it is. Not only is he an absolute superb performer, but the crowd exudes an intensity I have yet to experience elsewhere. Harry and the audience bounce off one another in an unprecedented way, with certain moments seeming almost choreographed. There is a routine, a script if you want, that once you know it, allows you as a member of the crowd to be part of the show. And while there undoubtedly is a cult-like feeling to certain aspects of it, it is a cult with only the best of intentions.


I feel beyond privileged to have witnessed and been part of something that has been as dazzling and monumental as this tour. This past year of my life and the memories I have made while travelling is something I will cherish forever. There is nothing that comes close to how happy Love on Tour and this time have made me. Whilst being the soundtrack to my life, it also gave me something to look forward to, where I was going to see my friends who live in different countries again soon, to celebrate.


Love on Tour was first announced in 2019, when I was seventeen years old, and has been part of my life up until now that I am twenty-one. I have graduated high school, started university, dropped out of university, moved to a different country, started university again, and grown up with Love on Tour as a constant in the back of my mind.

While the tour was announced alongside his sophomore album Fine Line, it was quickly indefinitely postponed due to the pandemic. The first leg of the tour was eventually the first North American one in 2021, where COVID-restrictions had lifted earlier than in Europe and other parts of the world. Watching a tour that I had been supposed to attend from across the ocean, not knowing if the European leg was going to happen in one, two or five years, felt like a punch in the gut. Nonetheless, the online culture of concert live streams had picked up during COVID, and people would stay up until crazy hours of the night to get a glimpse of Harry’s outfit on a grainy Instagram livestream with bad connection and even worse live commentary.


After waiting what felt like the most excruciating two and a half years, in which his third studio album Harry’s House was released, Harry finally came back to Europe. “Leaving America” and all that. Six of the shows I attended were at Wembley Stadium, all of them were sold out. According to Forbes, Harry Styles: Love on Tour became the tenth-highest grossing tour of all time in April of this year, with three more months to go until the last show. There is no doubt that Harry is the pop star of our generation. Which explains why there is a certain intensity around everything he does, or doesn’t do.


The outfits, as well as the ever so slightly changing setlist, were the reason for screams of joy the same way they were for tears and utter disappointment. The obsession with every single step Harry takes, not only on stage but also in his everyday life, has been a part of the whole spectacle since the forming of One Direction in 2010. Which means it comes to no surprise that every single word Harry says, every note he changes or any dance move he tries out, starts having almost something like a life of his own, especially on Twitter.

I would argue that the Twitter bubble I exist in is both one of the greatest bringers of joy as well as anxiety in my life. I have met the most wonderful people through being a fan, have travelled, and laughed until I cried of happiness. At the same time, any sense of financial responsibility goes out the window when I get a text at three am saying “Wanna add another date?” When what feels like every single person I know goes to at least 30 shows, is always front row and has also met Harry on their coffee run to Gail’s last weekend, there is a real fear of missing out. Because when you are not there, you are actually missing out. Money is fake but Harry Styles is forever has become the rationalisation for many a questionable decision.


However, most of these questionable decisions have turned into memories that will be everlasting. There is not one moment of this tour that I participated in that I regret. Harry has made this time so special for us, and I am eternally grateful. We have all spent so much time together under the banner of Love on Tour that, while Harry will certainly be touring again in the not-too-distant future, it feels like a chapter ending and a door closing.

The anticipation and expectation I have felt every single night for almost two full years have been something that has become such an integral part of my life that now that it is over, my previously with-happiness-inflated heart feels like it has been punctured by a needle in the shape of the final show in Reggio Emilia, Italy. But even so, in the end I just have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the past two years and everything that Harry has done to make every night the most special one.


So, here is a final thank you to Love on Tour. A thank you to every musician who has been a part of the Love Band, with a special shoutout to Mitch and Sarah, Pauli, the Trumpets and the Matilda Girlband. A thank you to Wet Leg and all the other incredible openers. A thank you to Fitness Brad and The Harry Government. A thank you to Anthony and Lloyd for capturing all those moments for us. A thank you to every crew member, and security guard, and person behind the scenes who made all of this possible. A thank you to my friends, without whom this entire experience wouldn’t have been half as fun, I love you forever. And most of all, a thank you to Harry who cried up on stage on Saturday night as he said his goodbyes to us.


And while Love on Tour might not last forever, the memories will.


Thank you. Buena notte, Harry. I had the time of my life.


 

Edited by Lucy Blackmur, Music Editor

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