Ahead of the Harry Styles gig on Saturday night at Sydney’s Accor Stadium – the last of the Australian leg of Love on Tour – rumours were swirling about just what might happen to cap off the six-date run.
Would he change his setlist? Would there be a special cover or guest appearance? Was he – as some were suggesting – going to finish his show and then dash off for a secret/surprise performance at the Bondi Beach Party as part of Sydney WorldPride 2023?
The answer lay somewhere between changing his setlist, doing a special cover, and having a surprise guest, rather than the logistical nightmare of trying to get from Sydney Olympic Park to Bondi Beach during the busiest weekend in the city since the 2000 Olympics.
The special guest was Daryl Braithwaite, whose 1990 cover of “Horses” has become an Australian institution. The country’s ongoing love affair with the song and the man himself, led Styles to say, “He’s a Tim-Tam. He’s Vegemite. He’s a shoey.”
And much like Tim-Tams, Vegemite and shoeys, the crowd lapped it up and threw it down. The moment was bound to go viral, something which has become almost customary at Styles gigs in recent years.
Whether the British superstar is helping fans come out to their friends and family, waving various flags of significance on stage, or simply donning an iconic Bunnings Warehouse hat, there always seems to be at least one moment unique to the show and the city, which then catapults around the world.
Many of these come from Styles reading the many and varied signs which fans bring to the gigs.
In Sydney on Saturday night, he wished Lilly a happy birthday, and also discovered another fan had missed their cat’s death to be at the concert.
An audience member, Shelley, declared that she was a psychic who could “read” Styles. Communication difficulties, perhaps due to the stadium’s size, however, meant that all Styles could discern was that something big was going to happen to him in the next 12 to 18 months.
Then we came to Gina, who wanted Styles to tell her (and the tens of thousands of fans in attendance) the sex of her unborn child, which was contained in an unopened envelope she had brought along.
Styles’ showmanship was on full display during these moments, when he cheekily asked his band if they could fashion up some “gender music, please”, and teased Gina that “I know something you don’t know” once he’d peeked inside the envelope. He also toyed with the idea of making Gina wait until the end of the show for the big reveal, before dancing and declaring “It’s a girl.”
Throughout the rest of the show, Styles delivered a masterclass in giving the crowd exactly what they wanted – whether it was making sure to interact with people in every corner and crevice of the stadium, or going back in time to play One Direction mega hit “That’s What Makes You Beautiful”.
The crowd also seemed genuinely thrilled with every song as soon as it kicked off. If you had just landed on Earth, you could be forgiven for thinking every song Styles played was genuinely the most popular one on the planet.
The only lowlight – and it’s hard to find one – was that in the rare moments of silence, the audience could hear the muffled sounds of the Backstreet Boys playing at the adjacent Qudos Bank Arena. The audience, however, were likely so enthralled with the man in front of them, that they didn’t worry about the boys down the road.
The idea that there could be so much happening in Sydney across one weekend, but all the audience cared about were Styles’ sounds, songs and sways, means I think Shelley’s right: something big will happen to Styles in the next 12 to 18 months. You heard it here first.
More information about Harry Styles’ tour can be found here.