Even though New York City experienced some of the world’s worst air quality last week, hundreds of Niall Horan fans gathered to Rockefeller Plaza on Friday, June 9, to celebrate the release of the former One Direction singer’s third solo album, “The Show.”
During his appearance for TODAY’s Citi Concert Series, the barking, which also happens at his fellow One Direction member Harry Styles’ gigs, breaks out in between applause or substitutes an applaud entirely. It’s a nickname for the 29-year-old Irish singer.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” says Niall on stage. “I haven’t released music in a few years, and I’ve worked so hard on this record over the last couple, so it’s just good to be back, making music, seeing the crowds – it’s a big day.”
But One Direction fans’ excitement hasn’t waned since the members established their own ventures. Their fans turn out in force, wearing “vintage” One Direction tees, Niall memorabilia from years ago, and dog tag necklaces with the guys’ pictures on them. Two admirers even turned up with Niall dolls made many years ago (if you know, you know).
Niall made his first appearance for soundcheck, wearing a light blue jumper and pants and smiled as his supporters woofing at him. Despite the early call time and a tweet he tweeted at 3:44 a.m. stating he was up getting ready for his TODAY appearance, Niall graciously returns the same enthusiasm his fans give him.
“Have to perform live on TV in less than 4 hours,” he wrote.
Since his huge break on “The X-Factor,” when the judges formed a boy band with Niall, Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, and Zayn Malik, Niall has been an avid social media user. Niall tweeted after his audition in 2010 that he hoped his music career would “all wrk out,” and he currently has a TikTok presence with 5.8 million followers.
He kept writing to followers into the wee hours of the morning, saying he was sorry to have to drink Throat Coat tea but that he was prepared to “have a listen” to what one fan described as “the greatest album in the world dropping” today.
While holding hands with fans and taking selfies in the plaza while rehearsing songs from his new album, he also grabbed fan Katie Woodward’s phone to take her BeReal, as she requested.
“I took a picture on Snapchat and made a black screen, and I wrote, ‘Can you take my BeReal?’” Woodward, 17, explains to TODAY.com. Woodward goes on to say that she shouted at him and he responded yes.
“He knew exactly what he needed to do,” she adds.
The event officially begins at 8:30 a.m., with Niall opening with two songs from his new album, “Heaven” and “The Show.” Fans know every line, as well as the lyrics to his greatest song, “Slow Hands,” which he also sings live. Niall soaks it all in, holding fans’ hands as he travels down the catwalk and revelling in the dawn sun while hundreds of people chant along to his songs.
In between songs, the TODAY anchors show a video of Blake Shelton, Niall’s fellow judge on “The Voice,” wishing him well for his performance and forthcoming tour. “Good ol’ pops,” Niall says, elaborating on their father-son bond formed on the singing competition programme.
Niall is then presented to two females from Argentina who travelled from California to see his plaza performance.
“When someone from Argentina comes, it makes you feel bad about coming from Jersey,” he quips.
The girls adore Niall, constantly embracing him and snapping photographs on live television. Niall finishes his concert with “Meltdown,” before addressing the audience amid screaming.
“We did four for TV, but I couldn’t let you queue up for three days and not play a couple more,” Niall said before performing two more songs.
Niall then runs inside and up the stairs of Studio 1A to record two interviews in which he describes his ideal festival lineup, which includes The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Oasis, and Taylor Swift (who he says he would open for).
When addressing his ideal musical collaboration, Niall mentions Swift once again. He begins with Bruce Springsteen, adding that he can “categorically say that will probably never happen,” before listing the “Shake It Off” singer a third time.
“I love Taylor Swift,” he declares. “She’s one of my favourite songwriters, and she’s without a doubt the best songwriter of our generation.” I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.”
The artist then rushes downstairs for his live performance on TODAY, where news of his cardigan fixation has spread. To Niall’s joy, TODAY’s weatherman Al Roker presented him a white cardi with the orange TODAY emblem crocheted on the front and “Today” stitched in black cursive on the back.
“I’d actually wear that, that’s very nice,” he adds. “100%. Very well done.”
Niall is then taken away by his crew to continue with his album release day, but as Niall had stated: “Let ‘The Show’ begin.”