No Zayn, but there actually was some gain when One Direction touched down at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday night.
Summer’s most heavily anticipated concert of 2013 — when ticket scalpers cleaned up on its instantly sold-out Target Center show — became summer’s most heavily Groupon-discounted concert of 2015. Tickets to Sunday’s stadium show were doled out at a 50 to 75 percent discount on the popular markdown website in the weeks leading up to the Minneapolis date.
So it goes in the short shelf life of a boy band. But part of the problem was the group itself has also been marked down.
In the nine months since this show was announced, the quintet lost its second or third most-popular member, Zayn Malik, who purportedly was tired of touring and all the other miseries that come with being a 22-year-old millionaire sex symbol a whopping four years into his career.
The party had dwindled to four on stage, but it actually felt more like a party this time around. And even though the show did not sell out, the crowd that did show up in the end was almost 40,000 strong — and certainly wasn’t lacking in enthusiasm.
We already learned in 2013 that — unlike all other boy bands since the dawn of man — the lads of 1D don’t wear fancy matching suits or work up synchronized dance moves in concert. They dress like they just got off work from a sub shop, and they work the stage like five, er, four individual rock stars. Opening act Icona Pop, a two-woman Swedish dance-pop group, sharply contrasted the boys’ approach with both a glitzy wardrobe and hyperactive dancing.
However, there was something more in sync — no pun intended — with the way the 1D fellas worked the stage. Perhaps with an eye to sparking their post-1D solo careers, they appeared a lot more energetic and invested. Or at least leading hunk Harry Styles couldn’t be seen on stage checking his phone for texts like he was at Target Center.
“Our job is to entertain you the best we can,” Styles told the crowd early on. “Your job is to have the best time you can.”
Styles and his bandmates took the stage in unison for “Clouds,” a fitting opening choice from last year’s album “Four” with the hook, “Here we go again.” By the second song “Steal My Girl,” though, they all dispersed to the far corners of the stage, with flannel-clad, short-haired Liam Payne immediately heading to the end of the long runway as if to let us know his would be the cockiest, smarmiest presence in the show.
The rest of 1D — also including guitar-strumming nice-guy blondie Niall Horan and shaggy-headed, wry-witted Louis Tomlinson — joined Liam at the far end of the arena for “Little Black Dress” and stayed for several more songs. Early on, it looked as if the Groupon ticket buyers had also lucked into the better seats. The cheap seats even got the first blast of confetti during one of the catchiest pop anthems of the night, “Stockholm Syndrome.”
Over the course of the two-hour performance, though, the guys eventually changed positions aplenty, and the music roamed around, too — from Bon Jovi-like rousing rockers such as “Alive” to the sticky-sweet and hyper-melodic “Fireproof” to several gushing power ballads, including “Little Things” and “Don’t Forget Where You Belong.” They delivered the latter tune mid-show all seated in a circle around Horan’s acoustic guitar in the middle of the runway.
As fluffy pop goes, the songs from “Four” proved a little more substantive and still plenty catchy in concert, and the four singers’ harmonies still fit together as organically as when Simon Cowell plucked them off England’s “X Factor.” They can’t dance, but they really can sing.
By the time the show got to 1D’s breakout 2011 hit “What Makes You Beautiful” (a few songs before the encore), all four singers were finally standing side by side at the center of the stage, as close together as they seemed when they first warmed our hearts. They also stuck close for the encore opener “You and I,” although by song’s end it really seemed like they were trying to outdo each other’s falsetto singing.
Place your bets now on those solo careers, but don’t count 1D out as a beaten dead horse just yet.