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Harry Styles gets off to smashing solo start in SF

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Harry Styles wowed adoring fans on his solo tour’s opening date at The Masonic in The City. (Courtesy Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Sony Music)

Harry Styles kicked off his first tour as a solo artist with a kick-butt performance Tuesday at The Masonic in San Francisco.

When tickets went on sale back in May, the show sold out in seconds. So it was no surprise to see hundreds of dedicated fans lining the venue’s surrounding blocks hours before the concert. Ushered into the moderately-sized theater right on the 7 p.m. doors-opening dot, they continued patiently waiting for opening act MUNA, a Los Angeles-based trio playing catchy electronic pop beats and a stellar cover of Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen.”

After MUNA finished, an alarm sounded and a firetruck even showed up. Luckily, there was no fire danger and the crowd quickly returned to buzzing with excitement waiting for Styles to come onstage.

The first image was of Harry’s unmistakable silhouette behind a large sheet covering the stage. Amid the crowd’s ear-piercing screams, the sheet was dramatically dropped to reveal the One Direction heartthrob and his band.

Clad in a floral suit, guitar in hand, and grinning ear to ear, he jumped right into banging out his new tunes.

While some critics have called his solo style derivative, in person, the sound feels like a mix of seventies rock, some blues with a very slight country undertone and just a pinch of pop — the good kind that makes your head bob along, not give you a headache.

Practically every person in the crowd knew all of the songs from his self-titled debut album (released in May) word for word, and proudly sung along — from the opening numbers “Ever Since New York,” “Two Ghosts” and “Carolina” to “Meet Me in the Hallway” and “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart,” an Ariana Grande song Styles co-wrote.

Styles made sure all sections of the audience felt included, continually jumping back and forth from one end of the stage to the other. Even during the slower tunes, he threw in groovy twists and turns.

With a 10-song album, Styles admitted he needed to fill time, so he threw in some old stuff. “Stockholm Syndrome” and “What Makes You Beautiful” were the only two One Direction songs he played; they clearly were highly nostalgia-inducing for attendees who’ve been fans since back in Styles’ boyband days.

He also managed to slip in a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.”

The crowd was wild about all of the tunes, and Harry constantly expressed his gratitude, blowing air kisses in between songs and even in the midst of them. He said thank you over and over in his signature charming voice.

His last song was “Sign of the Times,” the first single from his solo album. He finished as strong as he started, seamlessly hitting every high note, satisfying all of his followers.

Surely that will happen again Wednesday at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre.

Set list:

“Ever Since New York”
“Two Ghosts”
“Stockholm Syndrome” (One Direction)
“Sweet Creature”
“Only Angel”
“Meet Me in the Hallway”
“Just a Little Bit of Your Heart” (Ariana Grande cover)
“What Makes You Beautiful” (One Direction)
“From the Dining Table”
“The Chain” (Fleetwood Mac cover)
“Sign of the Times”

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