They’re OK entertainers, surprisingly good singers (most of them, anyway) and cuter than five kittens in a laundry basket. The boys of One Direction’s greatest trait, however, might be as salesmen.
Like the Beatles pulling into JFK Airport — give or take a few thousand levels of talent — the British boy band finally landed its highflying career in Minneapolis Thursday night. The 15,000 fans had to wait 15 heart-tugging months since buying tickets to the Target Center concert, which sold out faster than you can say, “Justin Bieber is sooo 2009.”
The wait painstakingly continued Thursday. A barrage of infomercial-like videos inundated fans before and after opening band 5 Seconds of Summer. The “X Factor”-factorized 1D team splashed everything you can imagine a boy band selling across the screen to start the show, from an upcoming 3-D movie — you knew it was coming — to toy dolls to even a fragrance.
Known individually as Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik -- what, no Ian?! -- the lads came out to the tune of the party-starter “Up All Night” and proceeded to sell themselves as a group of five unique talents.
“Unique” would not apply to anything the group did musically. Thursday’s show weaved between peppy pop fluff of the ’N Sync/Backstreet Boys sort, such as “C’mon, C’mon,” and sappy soft-rock ballads like “Summer Love,” with little variety in between.
“Summer Love” came midway through what felt like an endless string of the group’s most tender tunes three-quarters of the way into the two-hour set. It was like one long throwdown to decide which fella can sing falsetto best.
In one soft song, “Little Things,” we learned that Niall can play acoustic guitar and Harry probably sings the best (read: mushiest). The guys sat down for the ballad marathon, as if concentrating on staring doe-eyed into the video cameras. They’re all good at that.
Even in their liveliest numbers, the 1D boys -- ages 19-21 -- didn't go a whole lot of moving and shaking. They spent most of the time coolly strutting back and forth from one side of the stage to the other, offering close-up glimpses of the bad-boy tattoos you don't see in their promo photos. There were no choreographed, cheesy, in-sync dance moves like the boy bands of old.
But there were some fun gimmicks that added entertainment value. Things like a levitating mini-stage that carried them slowly over the crowd, and a couple funny videos between songs. A sign of the times, they also took questions from fans via Twitter.
While they should all have scream-damaged throats in the morning, the army of sign-carrying fans unquestionably had a ton of fun. Like crazy fun. Most crazed of all were their giddy singalongs on “One Thing” and the encore tunes “Live While You’re Young” and “What Makes You Beautiful” — the latter a confetti-showered finale that the girls and moms alike won’t ever forget. And if they do, they can always pick up some 1D perfume and action figures to spark the memories.