Harry Styles at Wembley - Ph: LLOYD WAKEFIELD

Spending 4 Nights at Harry’s House with His Fans 

Harry Styles, the 29-year-old Worcestershire native, returned to London’s Wembley Stadium for four sold-out shows for his tour Love on Tour. I would describe each of the nights as magical and rife with pure adrenaline, but his fans are indeed the stars of the show. From supporting him during his One Direction era to his solo career, his fans have hands-down been crucial to his success. More importantly, seeing Styles’ fans (also known as Harries) elucidates how fan culture is essential for society.

Harry Styles & Love on Tour

In homage to a lyric from the song ‘Cherry’ on his sophomore album, “There’s a piece of you in how I dress.”, being at Wembley Stadium for Styles’ shows meant that there was not only bound to be a sense of anticipation as fans waited for Harry Styles to take the stage, but his fans were also mirror images of him; some wore pink and white cowboy hats, sparkly and bejewelled boots, brightly coloured feather boas, heart-covered jumpsuits, and the infamous Satellite Stomper shoes, the Adidas Sambas and Gazelles. Styles’ fans adore his flamboyant approach to fashion by breaking harmful male stereotypes and embracing his stance on wearing what you want and are comfortable with.

As Styles was welcomed to the stage with a roaring sound from the audience, he opened his setlist with upbeat songs from his album Fine Line and his most recent album Harry’s House, songs such as Daydreaming, transitioning to dazzling Golden, which has a catchy eponymous chorus that the audience enthusiastically repeatedly chanted, before moving on to the funky and rhythmic Adore You and the energetic song Keep Driving where the crowd aggressively but passionately screamed the lyrics “cocaine, side-boob, choke her with a sea view,” as they gestured to themselves the actions that correlate to the lyric.

He finished with the harder-hitting rock song She, a piece described by Rolling Stone as “short-story lyrics about a family man’s life of quiet desperation and a six-minute build to wailing guitar drama,” but I think it is a very gritty, vocally demanding, sandpapery rock ballad. It entices the audience to sway and move to the cadence of Styles’ voice and the guitar solo performed by Mitch Rowland, his lead guitarist.

Depending on the night, Styles surprised the audience with many songs before he sang the tender song Matilda. Each night was unpredictable as he either sang Daylight or the classic throwback to Stockholm Syndrome from the One Direction album Four, the song Little Freak, which had my friends and me in shock and emotional wrecks, Boyfriends or Love of My Life, which tugged on Wembley’s heartstrings.

Harry Styles - Ph. Anthony Pham

Still, the true bombshell of all the shows was on the final night when he performed Sweet Creature, a stripped-back, acoustic folk-pop song from his debut album that entails an imperfect relationship where two people go through emotional turmoil. Still, he is willing to return to it because that person “brings him home”.  This person is his sister Gemma, to whom he dedicated the song before he sang this song to us.

With the crowd in inconsolable tears, hugging each other, and barely any time to recover, we found ourselves in the disco section of the show. 

Satellite (a personal favourite of mine) was next on the setlist, with rather depressing lyrics when you think about it. The song’s beat captivated the audience to go “round and round” in circles, spinning to the pre-chorus until we did the Satellite Stomps along with Styles as he danced around the stage. Cinema, the disco, funky tune, nudges Styles’ typical pop approach to music and had Wembley grooving to the 70s style song It transitioned to Treat People With Kindness, which had myself, my friends, and the crowd boot-scooting to the choir-y, snappy tune that had us feeling good in our skin.

We kept on dancing to Music For A Sushi Restaurant then to the founding song that started Styles’ career (What Makes You Beautiful) and to the final songs of the disco section – Grapejuice, a bluesy, vintage song where fans threw bouquets to the lyric “I was on my way to buy some flowers for you” and finally, Watermelon Sugar, the summer anthem of 2019.

A tender rendition of Fine Line had the audience in tears (again), a moment where fans, friends, and random people who didn’t know each other took each other into their arms and swayed to the song. It’s a pretty euphoric feeling. A sense of ease and tranquillity hugs you, as you listen to Styles, sing the ballad before you hear Sign of The Times.

The epic debut single was performed with a cascade of fireworks, and Styles’ spectacular series of concerts came to an end with a jubilant rendition of the song It was introduced by young fan Sandler in a sweet closeout moment with the legendary “C’mon Harry, we wanna say goodnight you” entrance. Kiwi closed the show with an array of fireworks that mesmerised the audience, and the audience was left in awe and in this bittersweet moment, not knowing when they could get a feeling like this again; a sense of home. At Harry’s House, everyone is welcome and can stay as long as they like.

Time and time again, we have seen how music can display various emotions, as Harry Styles’ setlist has done for his fans. But we often do not discuss how music, more specifically, impacts fans and fan culture.

At the core of the Functionalist School of Thought, social solidarity is crucial to human relationships This idea highlights a strong social link that unites a group and is acknowledged and treasured by all group members. Essentially at the core of fan culture, a sense of solidarity unifies the fan community. This is done by having a common ground in shared norms and values.

In the case of Harry Styles and his fans, it is that they have supported his solo career in music and his newfound acting career and share the same values, such as political beliefs, fashion sense and even humour, that unite them. While Styles is known for his eccentric taste in fashion, his political opinions support the most vulnerable people in society. 

We saw Harry Styles challenge toxic masculinity by wearing a dress on the cover of VOGUE magazine and joking about bringing back manly men in an Instagram caption. In 2020, Styles took a knee when he attended a BlackLivesMatter protest, and he has constantly shown support and solidarity for the LGBT+ community by waving Pride flags. Most famously, in the 2020 US Presidential Elections, he advised his fans to “vote with kindness” and to actually vote consciously in the elections.

When people support someone with the beliefs Harry Styles has, it mobilises his fans, and they often follow in his footsteps and ultimately push for a change from society’s status quo. Harries has raised money for various charities, undoubtedly creating a surge in art. They imitate Styles’s fashion down to even recreating his Love on Tour outfits. There has been a rise in graphic art, creative style, hand-making jewellery, and so much more simply because of fans and the culture they have created when they have seen it.

To me, and from what I have experienced growing up with fan culture and seeing Styles at his shows for the past two years, it is foolish to think that fan culture does not impact society. Fans challenge the status quo. They create art from their very hands, and they tackle issues by raising awareness and donating to charities. Fan culture should always be celebrated.