Harry Styles Love On Tour 2022: Madison Square Garden
by: Ioanna Aspras
Photo by Ioanna Apras from Harry's House, Sept. 10
Exactly one month following the release of Harry Styles' third studio album, Harry's House, he began a 15-night run of sold out shows at Madison Square Garden. Just this Wednesday (September 21), it finally came to an end. Over the course of these four weeks, New York City has been full of vibrant outfits, feather boas, heart sunglasses, fan signs, and the sound of Styles' music traveling throughout the streets.
Harry Styles concerts are truly like no other! I am fortunate enough to have seen him live twice: one being one of his 15 shows at MSG. The vibe and atmosphere of everyone there, no matter the size of the venue, is unmatched. Everyone there is just one, massive group of friends. Everything about his concerts is truly an adventure. Weeks and days leading up to it, everyone is picking out the perfect outfit to wear, and right before the concert, before the doors open, everyone is just waiting outside patiently waiting for the MSG billboards to finally turn to Harry's Love On Tour screen. During the concert, everyone is just freaking out, having such an amazing time dancing and singing with someone they admire so much. And after: mobs of fans exiting together, some crying, some still freaking out, some even singing still. Then you walk out on the street and you see guys selling Harry Styles t-shirts, and guys offering rides on bicycles while blasting Harry's music.
Harry always tries to make any "final show" special. So, on the 15th night, all audience members were greeted with a boa on their seat from Harry and the Garden, as well as a fan project of paper hearts with the Sign of the Times' lyric: "Welcome to the final show." During that performance, Harry also performed his song, Ever Since New York, live for the first time in years.
Because of how special and monumental this achievement is for Styles, the arena honored him with a banner commemorating 15 consecutive sold out shows near the end of the last show. Now being one of only three artists to have banners; joining Billy Joel and Phish.
Many of our Wooster community members had the chance to see Styles live at the Garden and shared their stories with me.
Evan Bourgeault, '23, saw Harry live for the first time on September 7th. He went with his friend, Emma, as they were celebrating his 17th birthday. He was lucky enough to have seats that were just behind the floor, so he had a very good view of Harry without needing to look at the screens. Evan was preparing himself for the show long before the date by listening to all of Harry's House on repeat; learning all the lyrics to sing along to. His favorite moments were when One Direction's Best Song Ever was played at the beginning and when his favorite song, Matilda, was performed. Evan remembers seeing TikToker, Chris Olsen, just a section away! The floor was very packed and "people were throwing teddy bears, glasses. There was even a Pride flag thrown on stage that he picked up and danced with!" Prior to Harry Styles, Evan had seen Lady Gaga live as well. Comparing the two, he says that Harry is really good at performing and dancing, but "Gaga's performances might be a better ensemble," with her background dancers and outfit changes. He says, though, that "Harry's music part of the shows are better" and that "he is amazing at involving the crowd." At the end of the concert Evan had quite a journey to get back home! They needed to get back to Grand Central Station, so they were trying to get an Uber but both of their phones died. So, "we stayed inside MSG trying to charge my phone, but then security kicked us out. We couldn't see the Uber, since we had no phone, so we just ended up taking the subway. It was definitely easier to get in than get out!" Overall, though, Evan had an amazing birthday celebration with Harry!
Molly Sullivan, '25, actually got her tickets, along with her classmate, Ava Aspen, only a few weeks before her show which was on September 14th. On the day of, they got into the arena at 7:30pm and when he came on stage, she actually cried because "he's been my favorite for so long, and it was a year after I saw him last, I don't know." She said her favorite song he performed was Little Freak: "I cried a lot during that and Matilda." Both times she saw him live, she noticed how everyone is so nice and how it's a whole group experience. Even though it was a huge place, "it feels like everyone's involved. And he's very inclusive even of the people that are so far." Harry was quite interactive at her show: he talked to a newly engaged couple who'd been together since they were 16. "There was also a sign there that said something like, "I threatened to get a divorce to come here!" that he read! It was really funny." Other than Harry Styles, Molly has seen Ariana Grande and Conan Gray live (as well as going to Jingle Ball and GovBall), but she says that "Harry's are the best shows I've ever been to. The way he interacts and how everyone is together--that is also true for Conan, but Harry's shows are just on another level." She was actually supposed to go to a Kid Cudi concert the Monday before, but she went to Harry instead... "those two would be really different!" The last time she saw Harry was last year and also at Madison Square Garden, and she remembers the exit process being really bad. This year she said was a bit better; people were more spread out. "Getting out is the hardest part of the show: some people are really happy, really sad (I was crying!)... so many boa feathers!"
Above: Molly's pictures
Photo: Katherine, Cara, & Elise
Elise Newman '23, Cara Costigan '23, and Katherine Breen '23 all went together on September 1st. They found out, however, very last minute! The night before, Cara texted them asking if they wanted to go see Harry Styles together, and of course the answer was yes! So the next day (the day of the concert) was actually Orientation Day here at Wooster, so all of them only had about five minutes turnaround time to get ready and head to the city. They got to New York around 6pm and went out to dinner before getting to the venue for 7:15pm. When they arrived at their box seats--about 30 minutes before the opening act--they noticed seats were pretty empty, which was a little confusing since it was sold out. But during the opening act and towards the end of their set, it really filled up. Everyone was screaming and freaking out when they saw the box go under the stage. When Best Song Ever played while everyone was waiting for Harry to come on, that really got everyone in the whole arena really excited. Elise remembers he came on the stage at exactly 9:03pm. She was crying as it was quite nostalgic for her. When she was eight, she saw One Direction live, outside at Central Park, so seeing Harry live for the first time after so long was quite a big deal for her. All three of them said that Sign of the Times was one of their favorites. Cara said that she's listened to that song "religiously for years and years, so seeing it live was really powerful especially because it's one of his slower songs." At their show, Harry also helped a fan come out, which was a really cool experience. They were all really sad when it ended, as well as in shock, and their ears were ringing. Compared to other live performances Elise has seen, such as Adele and Olivia Rodrigo, "Harry Styles was 100% top, number one. It will take a long time to beat that, it was incredible!"
Sophia Cilento '23, Katherine Breen '23, Cara Costigan '23, Sage Cilento '27 all took a last minute trip to New York on September 15 to see Harry live. Like Cara and Katherine's last show, this was also a very last minute decision and plan. Sophia was very excited throughout the school day, wondering what she was going to wear. They were anticipating the show during the whole train ride there. Katherine's aunt was the one who got the tickets, so they met up with her at the venue where she gave the girls some boas and heart sunglasses. When they got to their seats, they were in the lower bowl which has a really great view. But then, Katherine's aunt tells them that she knows the head of security and if they wanted to get into the pit, he had wristbands they could have! So, they went to the bathroom to put them on (so no cameras saw them do that and get the head of security into trouble), were pointed in the direction to go and they were on the floor! It was such an amazing experience for all of them.
Photo by Cara
Both Katherine and Cara said how incredible it was to see Harry from this different point of view, and so close! Katherine said that even though both times she went were truly awesome, she "liked the second time better. You hear the exact same words and everything, but it's such an incredible feeling to be on the floor. Nobody knows how to perform like Harry Styles does." Sophia really enjoyed seeing and hearing Satellite, Kiwi, and What Makes You Beautiful live. As well as Sign of the Times, both Katherine and Cara also really loved Treat People With Kindness. At their show, Harry even took someone's BeReal on stage and everyone sang Happy Birthday to someone turning 21! Sophia said that "Harry crowds seem more unified [than other shows she's been to]; you're really part of something." Afterwards, they were luckily able to get out before it got too packed, but then they just sat outside just letting it sink in; all of them were still in shock.
"10/10 amazing! If you're able to go to any of his shows, go! They're on the shorter side (1.5 hours) but they're packed with music, and dancing, and they are so much fun!" - Cara
Above photos from Cara
Kayla Feder, '28, saw Harry for the first time ever about a week ago. She'd also seen Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, and Shawn Mendez all live before. She was young, however, when she saw them, so doesn't remember much. She really loved hearing and seeing Sign of the Times live! She feels "that song is very sentimental and important" and was just so great to finally see in person. Overall, her experience was "life changing" and "truly a dream!"
Cece and Lucy Newman
Lucy, '27, Cece, '29, and Mr. and Mrs. Newman spent the evening as a family at Harry's show! This was their first time seeing Harry perform and actually their first concert ever! Lucy said, "I think we both agree, we couldn't ask for a better experience." She loved every song he sang, but would say her favorite was Sign of the Times "because it's already such a powerful song, but hearing it live was super moving and just incredible." There were also some memorable moments that happened on stage including someone throwing a chicken nugget onto the stage! Lucy shared with me that "overall, this experience was just amazing, the fans were all so kind, he sang every song I had hoped he would, the concert atmosphere was perfect, and I also loved getting to find cute outfits to wear!" Their mom, Middle School Humanities teacher Mrs. Newman also gave me her perspective as a parent going to Harry's show: "the parent perspective was amazing and we had a blast! If money and responsibilities didn't exist, we'd follow Harry anywhere!" And from Mr. Newman, Wooster's new Director of Student Guidance; "What struck me from a parent point of view was the positive energy of the audience. It was a diverse crowd, many of whom were holding signs with inspirational messages, especially about inclusion and personal empowerment, that were drawn from Harry's lyrics. It amazed me how many audience members knew every word of every song he sang, including my daughters! I had no idea of his impact on them and so many other young people. It was wonderful to see so much happiness."
Above: Tess Cicala's photos
Ms. Cicala also went with her fellow 2017 alumni: Josie Morales-Thomason and Marie Klepacz. This was her first time seeing Harry perform solo, but she actually saw him before when he was in One Direction during their sophomore year of high school, "which was awesome!" Other concerts she has been to include Cheetah Girls, Selena Gomez, Emblem3, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, The Lumineers, Galantis, and others at music festivals. Even with all those amazing performers, she says "Harry was definitely up there in my top 3!" Seeing her favorite song, Satellite, live was really cool for Ms. Cicala, as well as his memorable performance of the classic, What Makes You Beautiful. At their show, "he incorporated a lot of interactions with the crowd," including everyone singing Happy Birthday to someone! "The aftermath was crazy! So many people trying to get down the elevators and a lot of boa's on the ground. So worth it though!" That night was "one of the best nights ever! So happy I got to see him with some of my best friends. I will never forget it."
Drishti Choudhury's Photo
And last but certainly not least, Drishti Choudhury, Class of 2015, is a day-one Harry Styles fan! This was her third time seeing solo Harry live! Her first time was Harryween last year, and then she went to two of his MSG residency shows these past few weeks. She also went to a One Direction concert seven years ago. It was actually their last ever U.S. show before going on 'hiatus.' Even though she'd been a fan since X-Factor, her first show was unfortunately their last. Drishti is also an avid concert-goer including: Rihanna, Cardi B, Ed Sheeran, Bad Bunny, Jay-Z, the Jonas Brothers, Phoebe Bridgers, Kendrick Lamar and more at concerts and festivals over the years. "I think Harry is definitely high at the top of my list in terms of putting on a performance and bringing truly wild amounts of energy to every show. He's obviously got the vocals, but on top of that, he really has the audience wrapped around his finger during every second of the show. I remember going to see the Jonas Brothers with Leela [her sister and current senior] the night before they performed at an awards show, and it was a good time, but you could tell they were really holding back and trying to save their energy. So watching Harry do this MSG residency while also flying back and forth from Venice and Toronto and promoting all his movies, while still bringing so much hype and personality to every show is so amazing. Every time I see him do the high kicks on stage my own knees hurt honestly." One of the two MSG shows Drishti went to was the final show of the residency which was definitely something super special. "I got to hear Ever Since New York live for the first time in years at the final MSG show, which was something I hoped for but definitely didn't expect, and it was everything I could have asked for! HS1 is my all-time favorite Harry album, so I love when it gets love." When Harry was being honored with the banner, "it was honestly the sweetest thing! Everyone was confused for a minute trying to figure out what Gayle King was doing on stage, but once she started talking about the banner, the whole stadium went wild. Seeing him watch the flag go up with tears in his eyes was a really intimate moment considering we were in a room with like twenty thousand people. It was so deserved, though. Beyond proud that he's one of only three people to have this honor." Another live Harry moment that was truly memorable for Drishti was when he was running around the stage counting the "golf dads" in the audience--she says there were 40! "He announced it like he was going to do a kiss cam and everyone was so ready and then just... "dads!" I think 40 was a new record for him."
Drishti Choudhury's Photos - above is his banner in MSG
"Throughout the night, for various songs, he used all these orchestral intros which I loved! He had these stunning arrangements with horns for Cinema and Late Night Talking, and then he brought Dev Hynes (from Blood Orange, his opening act) out to duet Matilda with a cello and it was gorgeous. I also want to share how cute it was that he had boas set out for everyone on the last night! I can't even be too mad about the waste produced because I actually didn't really see any left all over the streets; I think everyone found it so special that they were all taken home. Harry fans love replicating his looks (I've dressed up as him at every show I've been to), so the second he wore that boa for the first time, we knew it would take off, and I love that he knows what a big deal the boas have become."
Thank you to everyone who shared with me! I truly enjoyed hearing and being able to share all your stories! Here are a few videos taken by our fans.