When tickets for Wednesday’s sold-out One Direction concert went on sale more than a year ago, it seemed hilariously optimistic, considering the shelf life not only of burning pop acts in general but boy bands in particular. But instead of an awkward display of gratification so delayed the original impulse had been forgotten, the British/Irish five-piece were greeted at the Comcast Center with the same shrieking adulation as when the show was announced last year.
Individually, the lads’ voices weren’t much — fine but undistinguished variations on a post-adolescent tenor — but they blended in an anodized gleam and played off of one another well. That made them the very definition of a group, and the individual lines they passed around like a vocal baton did not have nearly the impact of the collective whole. The chorus of “One Thing” sounded like it was meant to sound incomplete without nearly 20,000 people singing along.
Except for a sparkled-up rendition of Blondie’s “One Way Or Another,” every number was a paean to puppy love; with the exception of their cover of Wheatus’s “Teenage Dirtbag,” there was barely even a hint of unrequited pining. Even slower numbers like “More Than This,” “Moments,” and “Summer Love” — the introspection of which was delineated not just by the acoustic guitars but by the way One Direction sang while seated — had softness but no sadness.
With that as the more downbeat end of the One Direction spectrum, upbeat songs like the summer pop froth of “Live While We’re Young” and the kicky, Rick Springfield-ish “She’s Not Afraid” roared with joy. Unusually for a boy band, they seemed to have been given relatively free rein as far as their choreography (or marked lack thereof), leaving them to wander off, regroup and wander off again. But that helped One Direction radiate a disbelieving delight at what they get to do.
5 Seconds Of Summer opened with earnest, anthemic boy-band power pop in the style of Neon Trees.Marc Hirsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @spacecitymarc.