Full disclosure: This post really isn’t much about food, but it is a chance for me to show a bit of myself to you all. Let me just tell you that I see some big changes coming soon, and I can’t wait to tell you about them.
On Friday night, I went to see Niall Horan (formerly of One Direction for you non pop culture folks) with opening act Maren Morris. First of all, I expected this concert to be good. I was very impressed by Niall’s album, and I already knew he could sing.
However, it took me some time to come to this realization. Even though the guys from One Direction won a live singing competition, it wasn’t until a few years into their fame that I truly realized how talented they are. It was their 2013 performance of “Through the Dark” on SNL that did that for me. I already knew “Story of My Life” (the other song they performed that night) but I had never heard “Through the Dark” before that night. When they opened their mouths to sing, I was blown away by the sound coming through my computer screen.
I am not sure why I was so surprised by their talent. I know they are a boy band and that carries a certain connotation in terms of talent. Boy bands are seen a croony teen pop, just guys who dance around and can sort of carry a tune. They are not taken seriously as artists. However, I am no stranger to defending boy bands and their talent. As a long-time fan of the Backstreet Boys (a diehard fan since I was 5) I have long sung their praises, especially when people say things like, ‘oh, but they can’t sing.’ I call bull there. Every member of the Backstreet Boys is an incredibly talented vocalist. If you don’t believe me, go search for BSB a cappella performances from the 90s. That is how they got noticed. You can’t hide anything when you are singing a cappella, and you can see their harmonizing skills in these performances.
So, I should have known or at least suspected that the One Direction guys could sing. I just didn’t expect what I heard that night watching SNL on Hulu. That performance sold me as a 1D fan. Previously, I listened to their music on the radio, knew all the lyrics and sang along, but it was more of a hate that I know all these lyrics type of situation. After hearing that performance, I was no longer ashamed that I liked One Direction. They actually remind me quite a bit of BSB. In fact, one day my friend (another 1D fan) and I determined which 1D member correlated with each BSB member. In case you are wondering it’s: Nick=Harry Brian=Niall AJ=Zayn Kevin=Liam Howie=Louis.
I felt like I watched the band grow since that performance, and I continued to be impressed with their SNL performances, even after the guys went their separate ways to pursue solo careers. One of my all-time favorite SNL performances is Harry Styles singing “Sign of the Times.” I had already really liked the song, but that performance made me fall in love with it. The vocal delivery of that song live was one of the purest displays of talent I had seen in such a long time. There is no doubt in my mind, Harry Styles can sing.
Harry and Niall have spent quite a bit of time over the past year touring. Two of my friends and I decided we should try and make it to one of their concerts. We ended up buying tickets to go see Niall at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, VA. We got a pretty good price for seats in the rear section of the theater, so we wouldn’t have to worry about sitting in the lawn section. We actually bought these tickets sometime last fall, so we had been in anticipation of this concert for almost a year.
The time finally came for the concert, and it could not have been at a worse time for me. I was coming off of a terribly exhausting month at work. This past week was particularly bad. I also double-booked myself and planned to spend Labor Day weekend with friends at Deep Creek Lake, so I had to get myself up very early Saturday morning to get out there. Needless to say, I was already worn out going into this concert. My friends arrived at my apartment in the afternoon, and I ended up taking an accidental power nap prior to leaving. I didn’t mean to fall asleep; I just did while sitting there. That is how tired I was. I must say though that it helped a lot.
I drove us to the concert venue, and after eating dinner in the car (Boar’s Head sandwiches we bought at Giant) we got in line to wait for the gates to open. Let me tell you, it was so hot. The sun was beginning to set, but it was still shining down directly on us. I was getting in a cranky mood pretty quickly as the sun was beating on my face and I was starting to profusely sweat. I just wanted to get inside the gates and find some shade.
Once we did get through, we came across an Italian Ice stand. Still feeling hot and a bit dehydrated, it felt like the perfect way to cool down. I got a mango one, and it was the bomb. One we were in our seats and shielded from the sun, I felt a lot better. It actually started to cool down some as the sun continued to set. The Italian Ice also really helped to cool me down, and it was a delicious treat.
I am now realizing I have written this incredibly long intro to get to the entire point of this blog post, but I did say that I was going to give you a bit of myself. If you don’t know me personally, you now at least know that I love boy bands. Anyway, let me talk now about the concert itself.
The opener was Maren Morris. She is a relatively new country music singer, but outside the country world, she became very well-known this year as the voice in Zedd’s song, “The Middle.” I have listened to her full album on Spotify, but I did not piece together that she would be the opener for this show. It does make sense that Niall would ask her to go on tour with him though, since she sings a duet with him on his album.
I was rather impressed with Maren. I do like her music, and I think she is a great songwriter. It is just that in today’s music industry you can never expect that an artist is going to sound good live, because being a good singer is not a requirement to becoming a famous singer.
Maren Morris is very talented though. She writes songs that are not easy to sing, and she delivered a great live performance. She also sang Second Wind (which is on her album). I know this song very well, because it is my favorite song on Kelly Clarkson’s album Piece by Piece. I did not realize until after this show though that Maren Morris co-wrote that song for Kelly. I liked her performance of the song, but it is always going to be hard not to compare her to the great Kelly Clarkson. Maren did perform a great set for this show, and she is a great artist in her own right.
Then, for the main event Niall came out to perform. From the first look on his face, I was awestruck. You could tell he was just so happy to be on this stage. He did not disappoint. Experiencing him play live and in person was such a joy. He was vocally on point. He was charismatic and really worked the stage and the crowd. He jested with the audience in between numbers, and I could see why is he is known as the sweet, adorable member of 1D. He played his entire album, plus a few bonus songs (including a couple 1D songs and covers of Tom Petty and Bruce Springstein).
During this concert, I had a moment of clarity. I was watching two people enjoying themselves doing what they love. Yes, they are two talented, famous artists, but they are still people. They found a way to make a career out of what they love to do. You could see that watching them. The pure joy exuding from Niall’s being was contagious and inspiring. It made me want to have that in my life. It made me yearn for a more meaningful and authentic life.
I have ben thinking a lot about this lately, not just from this concert, and it all started with this blog. Well, it really started prior to that time, but when I started this blog, I felt something for the first time is such a long while that it really got me thinking.
From the first day I started writing, I felt this sense of awakening. Instead of feeling like I was dragging myself through life, I felt like I was alive. I felt happiness (something historically lacking in my life). It has made me want to feel more of that. I have been doing some soul searching, because the plans I have had for my career don’t seem to give me that feeling, and my job has actually been making it even harder to feel positive emotions. I want to live life actively through my passions, and I know I produce my best work when I do so. That is not where I am right now in my life.
The moral of this story is that there are a lot of ideas brewing in my head. I am working on making some decisions that could result in some major changes in my life. It is stressful because I want to make the right decision, and it is difficult because I don’t yet know what that is. I do trust myself to make the right decision, and I hope the people in my life trust my judgment. I know big things are coming in my future, and I hope that you all enjoy seeing what happens.