Louis Tomlinson said “I’m f-ing boiling, honestly I might pass out up here” as he prepared to give his audience, mainly composed of girls and women in their late teens and early 20s, another taste of nostalgia with a second song from his time in One Direction. Despite it being a scorching hot Texas summer night, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” was screamed, not sung, by the nearly sold out crowd at the Moody Amphitheater in Austin, Texas last night (July 7).
The difference in enthusiasm from the crowd between his solo songs and the ones from his time in the mega group was clear. ‘Night Changes,’ which he gave a brilliant rock twist, had a much better reaction than even his biggest solo single ‘Kill My Mind’ – a clear indication that the longing for a One Direction reunion remains intact.
Not selling his music short, Tomlinson stuck to mainly his own discography. Other than the two aforementioned 1D tracks and a cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘505,’ his 23-song setlist was made up mostly of songs from his recent album Faith In The Future with a few fan-favorites from his debut Walls. The title-track from the latter being a highlight of the night as it showcased his crisp, well-controled vocals. He was never a strong singer when put next to the likes of Harry Styles and Zayn Malik, but Tomlinson’s voice has improved tremendously in comparison to when he first came to prominance on the X-Factor UK in the early 2010s.
Throughout the show, Tomlinson looked uncomfortable – perhaps the heat was getting to him; at one point, sweating profusely, he sat down mid-song to drink some water. Even though he is known to be a very charismatic dude, his stage prescence lacked a bit. The few times he did address the crowd though, his smile awakened and his humble-nice persona was present. “This is the best part of the job,” he said about being on stage in front of his fans who “allow him to make the music he wants to make.”
And sure enough, Tomlinson has strayed away from the mostly pop spectacle that One Direction was. He has leaned more on the Britpop meets punk rock sound while still maintaining his meaningful, personal lyricism. After all, he was known to be one of the One Direction members most-involved with the songwriting.
Before the show, music from bands like The Killers, Nirvana, and the Pixies rumbled on the speakers. His likeness for that type of music is clear, yet it still seems like he holds back sonically. It could be that he does not want to fully lose the pop-infused anthems that have his fanbase on a stronghold. But deep down, it feels like he wants to lean on the rock moments even more.
Songs like the angsty, euphoric “Out Of My System” and the more catchy “Face The Music” turned up the heat even more. Production-wise the show was impeccable. For a tour mainly hitting amphithetaers and larger theaters here in the United States, there was a lot happening behind the 31 year-old singer: moving set pieces, massive strobe lights, and pyro put a huge contrast on the show against his very casual pants, sneakers, and sleeveless tank outfit. His look manifesting that Louis is all about the music.
This latest outing is a big step up for the singer from Doncaster, England. Tomlinson might not be the biggest star in the world, but his following remains strong and loyal. The spotlight he puts on his real craft, which is the music, is what is most important. He has carved out a special place in music for himself and his live show is solid proof of it.
The Faith In The Future World Tour continues through the end of July with shows in North America before heading to Europe through November.