Niall Horan Comes "Home" to Mansfield, MA
Niall Horan, former One Direction singer, brought his Flicker World Tour to the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts on Saturday, September 8th. Originally from Westmeath, Ireland, Niall brought up throughout his set how much he was looking forward to the Massachusetts date on the tour and how Boston and MA were the closest thing in the US to Ireland. He even mentioned that his Mass shows feel just like the Dublin shows.
I was never super into 1D when they were together but have definitely found an appreciation for the group and its members in the past 3 years or so. I’ve seen Niall perform a couple times before, but just a song or two at One Love Manchester and as a special guest at Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour in London earlier this year. I was a bit reluctant to buy tickets because I wasn’t super familiar with Niall’s solo material, but buying a last minute ticket to the Flicker Tour was definitely not a mistake.
The concert itself was one to remember showcasing the best of Niall’s debut solo album paired with his fun and playful banter with the crowd.
Without knowing many of the words to most of the songs, I did not feel out of place in the slightest. The fans were more excited to be there than I’ve seen in a while and just about the most passionate I’ve maybe ever seen. From the first chord to the final line in the encore, the crowd was screaming every lyric; I’m sure you could have heard them a few miles down the road. Niall repeatedly thanked the crowd and shared his mutual excitement with the fans about playing the show and how loud Massachusetts shows always are for him.
The fan engagement did not stop there. Some fans handed out little pieces of paper to everyone in the venue to hold up on their phone’s flashlight to make the Irish flag during the song This Town.
A fan also brought an Irish flag that made it to the stage during the encore and Niall made sure to show off his Irish Pride by waving the flag and tying it to his mic stand during Mirrors and as he left the stage.
Niall performed eighteen songs total, including two 1D fan-favorites and a Bruce Springsteen cover. He also brought his opening act, Maren Morris, out during his set to duet on their song Seeing Blind. The entire show had an amazing energy from start to finish, but somehow different from other shows I’ve been to. Although his sound isn’t necessarily all bangers or high-energy dancing songs, every song felt like an anthem with this stunning live band, Niall’s lighthearted stage presence, and the boisterous echos of thousands of fans singing along to every word.
His debut album, Flicker, definitely has a country/singer-songwriter feel to it, but almost felt a bit too produced compared to the live versions he played on Saturday. As an avid music fan, I love listening to the recording and production of records but was left a bit disappointed after listening back to the recorded songs because I was so impressed with the live versions. To be honest, I think a lot of it has to do with Niall’s growth in voice maturity and what he probably felt comfortable with when releasing his much-anticipated solo project last year. But, this does not take away from how great the album is.
The tour production felt like it fit the sound perfectly, from the somewhat minimalistic lighting at a large amphitheater and the band mimicking the sounds on the album rather than a backing track. And I cannot forget to mention one of my favorite parts about his band was that it featured a violin player. I can’t think of any artist or band I’ve seen that has a violin player on tour with them, and I have to say it was such a great addition to his band and the tour. I’m not sure if he always planned on having a live violin when playing his album, but it honestly solidified how much I loved the concert and Niall’s music.
I 100% recommend checking out his album and try to make it to one of his shows if you can!