Harry Styles played a sexy, sequined, and genre-bending set at Coachella, and the review says that it was very well done.
It’s called Empire Polo Grounds in Indio, CA.
In the beginning of this year’s Festival, there is a striding pop-rock star who is slickly running through his hits and then Shania Twatin comes on to surprise everyone.
A sequined catsuit, a headliner at Coachella, and a name called Harry Styles are all signs that rock isn’t dead after all. He wants you to think that way. Among other things, his last album, 2019’s Fine Line, was made for floppy fedoras and flower crowns. It had a lot of 70’S folk twangs, Canyon Moons, and songs about lust and regret that were both sexy and sad in the sun. All of the pomp and showmanship of a Big Stadium Pop-Rock Show, on the other hand, is out in full force tonight. There’s a brass band! This song has more wailing guitars than a Led Zeppelin B-side. Hip-swivelling!
To start, the show is full of smoothness. Styles glides down the spiral staircase without missing a step. Then he lets go of his ostrich costume and shows off his Freddie Mercury-styled deep V. Styles isn’t just here to show that he’s not just a Rock God Reborn, but that he’s also an adopted All American Son.
To promote his new album, Harry’s House, on May 20, Styles launches his disco rocket with the single As It Was. Coachella is a big business, so Styles has a lot to say about the album (think Robbie Williams, by way of Metronomy, or Joe Jackson). From here, it’s a high-energy, muscular set that moves from funk to folk-rock, with songs like “Adore You,” “Golden,” and “Watermelon Sugar,” which are turned into rousing festival songs. At first, Harry’s band is mostly female. Then, he brings them to the front of the stage for a new song about being jealous of boys. “To boyfriends everywhere, fuck you,” says the preamble. I’m going to call this Harry’s blue balls section. It’s a good acoustic song, with four-pronged harmonies that keep the pretty-ditty theme going from his last album. Cherry’s lament about her ex-girlfriend comes right after.
Fine Line was criticized, if anything, for not having much substance beneath its Bowie-inspired style. It didn’t show much about one of pop’s biggest male solo artists. Live, it’s clear that the thing that makes Styles is how quickly he can move. He isn’t Freddie Mercury, but tell that to the people who fainted in the front row after all that thrusting, because they don’t care about that. As soon as the show starts, Styles says like a teacher at the school prom that there will be “dancing for 12 minutes” to keep everyone going. This is just to keep everyone going. It is true that a brass band in red boiler suits makes Canyon Moon a joyful party.
It’s part of the fun of Coachella to see who gets to sing with the band. But Styles doesn’t go over the top. Tonight, he is the star. But when Twain comes on stage, she rises like a go-go dancer in a dazzling minidress and launches into the campy, bouncy, glam rock of Man, I Feel Like A Woman. You’re Still The One is one of the songs they sing together. Styles says that when he was young, this woman taught him how to sing. “She also told me that men are garbage.”
But Styles, right? Late Night Talking, his last new song, shows that he’s going in a funk-fuelled direction that sounds a lot like Jessie Ware. It looks good, but we don’t know yet if it shows more of the man behind the mask. Aw, sorry, sequins! With fireworks going off in the sky, it hasn’t been Beychella, but this is the show that shows that Styles is a solid performer, even if he has sequins on his clothes.
In 2022, this review was changed. It wasn’t a cover version of Sign of the Times, and Shania Twain isn’t a “All American Gal.”