One Direction get screaming welcome to Croke Park from fans

Travelling roadshow rolls into town with Mullingar’s Niall Horan the star attraction


The best part of a quarter of a million fans, five young men on stage, a gig so big it had an app. One Direction’s hits mightn’t be familiar to anyone who no longer marks their musical affinities on their pencil case, but superlatives can’t cover the pulling power of this boy band worth around €75 million. This weekend a phenomenon own Dublin.

It was a homecoming for Niall Horan, the 20-year-old from Mullingar who warmed up for the gig with a casual chat on 2fm about going for a couple of pints the previous evening only to find the local kebab shop shut. “Typical,” he said. Traveling the world might be fun, but Horan’s mother hadn’t seen him since Christmas.

One Direction are now so popular, (another tour in Australia, Asia, South Africa and Dubai has just been announced for 2015) their tour stops sound like those of a travelling sports team; the Rose Bowl, Stade de France, Wembley.

But it doesn’t get any bigger than Croker, a historical point for the band given that this is the biggest crowd they’ve ever played to. The giant stage production does a good job of filling the space in front of Hill 16.

5SOS, which stands for 5 Seconds Of Summer, an appropriate moniker for a band playing an outdoor gig in Ireland, were perfect warm up fodder.

Fireworks As the crowds stream in – a lesson in event organising and stewarding by the way, asides from large queues for food – there are endless flags and hats bearing Horan’s name. The band opens with Midnight Memories backed by an entire warehouse worth of fireworks, a spectacle only eclipsed by the volume of screams.

Horan, wearing a green sleeved t-shirt, appears overwhelmed, guitar in hand, kicking out the jams. The roars are amplified every time he appears in shot. Say what you want about the cynical music industry, but with his family watching and the crowd on board, watching thousands applaud a young lad from Mullingar on a colossal stage realising his dreams is incredibly touching.

Silver streamers that explode from canons are collected as mementos. And Horan knows his cues, playing to the camera during Little Things, well able for it. Liam Payne is left alone on stage to thank the fans for their support and enthusiasm, as well as thanking the Irish members of their crew, who are numerous.

There’s even a shout out for Superquinn sausages. Short of One Direction waving matching shillelaghs, the gig couldn’t get more Irish.

The second loudest screams are reserved for possibly the band’s most individual celebrity, Harry Styles, who kickstarted his colleague’s trend of dodgy tattoos.

“I want to tell you a quick story about a young man from Ireland...” Styles says, introducing Horan for the umpteenth time. This is One Direction’s gig, but it’s Horan’s night.