The multicoloured mastery of Harry Styles

Pop star delivers positive, powerhouse show.

Who: Harry Styles
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
When: Mon., Aug. 15
Vibe: Feathers, glitter and monochromatic outfits fit for a party several years in the making.
Highlight: A nonstop, 15-minute dance party with flashing lights and back-to-back hits, including a quick YMCA cover and a One Direction throwback.
Next: Aug. 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, Sept. 1, 2,3, 7, 8, 10, 14, 15, 21, Madison Square Garden, New York City

Union Station is sprinkled with coloured feathers. Packed among the regular Monday evening commuters is a flurry of bright, feather boas and sequined jumpsuits, which means the seminal moment has finally arrived: Harry Styles is in Toronto.

It’s been a long time coming for the pop icon. After a cancelled 2021 tour date and a frenzied ticket sale that caused headlines and hashtags, fans finally gather from across the country for the singer’s only Canadian dates.

If your TikTok For You Page is anything like mine, you’ll know Styles recently wrapped the European leg of Love on Tour. It’s thanks to these videos I knew a fun outfit was a necessity for the evening. I’m trailing a group of colour-blocked ensembles, all bright pinks and greens, towards Scotiabank Arena’s security gates. Inside I’m greeted by every colour of the rainbow wrapped around the concourse, waiting to purchase merchandise.

With an hour to go before anyone takes the stage, the arena is already filling up. Styles’s centre stage setup with a catwalk at either end makes for a dynamic 360-degree view. I see fans spread across the entire barricade and know some of those die-hards tried camping outside the venue for their front-row spots. Both in the pit and around the bowl, friends pose together for photos, capturing every magical moment they can. My award for most unique costume goes to the pair dressed as ghosts, with baseball caps over white sheets they’ve cut eye holes into.

American singer-songwriter Madi Diaz kicks off the show to a loud and welcoming crowd. Diaz is positively beaming as she belts out songs of anger, love and vulnerability. Many in the room relate to her beautiful tracks about bitter exes and the urge to cry in public. For just a three-piece band, they have no trouble captivating thousands of people.

All warmed up after Diaz’s set, the house music switches to ’90s and early 2000s hits while the crew sets the stage. Fans dance along to One Direction and S Club 7 until the room goes dark and the arena explodes in screams.

Already deafening as the band members take their places, somehow everyone finds extra lung capacity to yell even louder as Styles makes his entrance. His tour outfits have been a popular topic of conversation, as he’s chosen to match the colours of each country’s flag. Tonight, he continues the tradition with white flared pants with mirrored polka dots along the seams and a red tank top with the initials “HS” sequined in gold. Even the band is on theme in red jumpsuits with embroidered Blue Jays, maple leaf and raccoon patches.

Styles kicks off with Daydreaming, and what follows is 75 minutes of pure joy. The setlist is a mix of all three albums, with heavy attention given to his latest, Harry’s House. The entire arena grooves along to hits like Music for a Sushi Restaurant and Watermelon Sugar as Styles prances from one end to the other, causing hysteria every time he shimmies his hips.

Between songs, Styles expresses how grateful he is to be back in Canada or “the land of poutine and William Shatner.” He shares that Canadian fans have always been “welcoming and warm” and encourages the people in the crowd to be their true authentic selves during the show. Among the heartfelt speeches are a few jokes. He acknowledges the 360 stage and that, at times, fans will either be greeted by his face or his ass — their personal preference is up to them!

An expert showman, Styles gives his attention to every corner of the room, wandering back and forth while waving to each seated section. He dances with his bandmates and throws water into the crowd. His vocals are impressive, though at times hard to hear over everyone else’s singing. I’m convinced Styles could stand centre stage and let the audience sing the entire set for him and we would still thank him for an amazing performance.

One of the sweetest moments is a fan-led initiative during Matilda. As we took to our seats, slips of coloured paper were passed around to hold over cell phone lights during the song. Different sections were assigned certain colours and the result is a breath-taking rainbow encircling us all.

Styles closes with the stunning Sign of the Times, TikTok viral sensation As It Was and rock-infused Kiwi, leaving everyone breathless. Thousands of dazed fans file out into the summer night, knowing they just shared a vibrant, unforgettable experience.