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Nearly two years after postponing his debut solo tour, Louis Tomlinson performed to a sold out crowd on Feb. 17 at Boston’s House of Blues as part of his long-awaited “Louis Tomlinson World Tour.” After such a long wait it was no surprise that the Brit’s fervent fans began lining up as early as 7:30 A.M. to secure highly coveted barricade spots for the show. Taking the stage with nothing more than a mic stand, a backing band, and a giant smiley face behind him, Tomlinson let the music take over. Through a balanced mix of the new and the nostalgic, his performance proved that the once-boyband star can excel all on his own.
Fans in the audience were quickly rewarded for their time when Tomlinson displayed his experience and expertise as a performer by interacting with the crowd. In turn, the crowd supported Tomlinson’s hometown with Doncaster Rovers Football Kits dotting the audience, along with nearly a dozen Louis Tomlinson dolls. As an added surprise for the singer, fans also came together to take part in a nightly fan project — giving out an abundance of pride flags to hold up during the concert. Throughout the performance, Tomlinson displayed a unique ability to make a large crowd feel small — reading signs, flipping off audience members (something that has become a sign of endearment among Tomlinson’s fans), and even filming himself on a fan’s phone that had been thrown on stage.
The singer’s expert stage presence was supported by strong vocals throughout. He maneuvered the crowd through rousing lyrics from his debut solo album, 2020’s “Walls.” After opening with the mid-tempo rock ballad “We Made It” and a One Direction cover, Tomlinson performed a stretch of songs from the album including “Two of Us” and “Too Young.” While Tomlinson’s discography can at times feel formulaic, his music transcends in a live setting. Songs like “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” and “Always You” that come across as generic on recording were invigorated with new energy during the concert as Tomlinson bounced off the crowd's high energy. A casual concert goer would never guess that Tomlinson's “Copy of A Copy of A Copy” was an unreleased track as his devoted fans sang along without missing a single word.
“I know you know the words to this one,” Tomlinson remarked before launching into a crowd-pleasing rendition of One Direction’s 2015 hit “Drag Me Down.” The cover marked the first of three One Direction songs the former band member would sing. Tomlinson also took time to pay tribute to two of his musical influences, including a cover of Kings of Leon’s 2013 single “Beautiful War.” The surprise highlight of the night came during Tomlinson’s cover of Catfish and the Bottlemen’s indie rock track “7.” The song’s stripped back choruses allowed Tomlinson’s vocals to shine, building up to a bombastic final chorus featuring a belt unlike anything from his own discography.
Tomlinson’s encore turned out to be carefully crafted to highlight the best parts of this performance. The three-song stretch began with “Only the Brave,'' a stripped back number that stands out from Tomlinson’s collection of otherwise forgettable slow songs. After a quick final thank you speech for his crew and supporting act (the punk rock band Sun Room), Tomlinson reached for yet another crowd pleaser with a solo rendition of One Direction’s “Through the Dark” that had the entire audience captivated.
Tomlinson closed out the 90-minute set with his debut album’s second single “Kill My Mind.” On its own, “Kill My Mind” is a Tomlinson performance at its very best. Paying homage to mid ’90s Britpop, the track’s anthemic chorus shook the venue, threatening to overwhelm the House of Blues as if meant for the biggest stage and the loudest crowd. This track reached new heights as his concert finale, leaving the audience with one final taste of his stage presence. Old and new fans alike left with a new perspective on Tomlinson as an artist — the greatest accomplishment for a debut solo tour. With performances like these in his future, Tomlison has the makings of a successful solo career.
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