UBS Arena started its concert career with one of the hottest pop stars in the world: Harry Styles, who played a sold-out show Sunday night at the Elmont venue in Belmont Park, the final stop on his “Love on Tour” concert tour.
“This is like a piece of history that I’m going to be a part of,” said Ali Bebry, 21, of Bayville, who watched his sixth Styles show this year. “I think when I’m 80, people will talk about this arena, like they talk about Shea Stadium. I can tell my grandchildren, ‘Grandma was at the first show at UBS Arena, and it was Harry Styles!’ “
Styles’ fans are a dedicated bunch who call themselves “Harries”. Most find each other on social media and come to his shows dressed up in special outfits.
“The attire is very campy. Many people dress like him or in groovy attire such as the clear color patterns of the 70s,” said Bebry, who wore a rust-colored silk jumpsuit with an illuminated angel wings cloak. “Every concert becomes a party. I enjoy the ritual aspect where you are like dressing for an experience.”
Styles hit the diamond-shaped scene in-round with sheer abundance, which was matched by his youthful and predominantly female audience. The six-man band started the set with “Golden” from his multiplatinum second album, “Fine Line”.
“Welcome to the last night of ‘Love on Tour,'” Styles said wearing a gold fringe vest on his bare but heavily tattooed chest. “It’s also an honor to be the very first show in this building.”
Like Justin Timberlake before him, it’s clear that the former One Direction member, 27, has risen above his boyband roots to mature into an A-list entertainer who can not only dance and sing live (it is right, no lip-syncing here) but more importantly get connected to his audience. He performed songs like “Adore You” and “Only Angel”, which rotated around the stage and made sure to distribute his attention evenly from all sides of the stage and its extended catwalks.
“We have one job tonight to entertain you wonderful people. I promise you we will give you our absolute best,” Styles told the audience. “You also have one job – to have as much fun as you possibly can. You’re welcome to do what you want and be the one you want to be in this room tonight.”
During his song “Treat People With Kindness,” Styles displayed a rainbow LGBTQ flag thrown on stage to show his openness to his fans from all walks of life. But it was his charm that warmed the room on the ballads “She” and “Cherry”, where fans sang along to every word or jumped around to the One Direction classic “What Makes You Beautiful”.
After chants of “HARRY! HARRY! HARRY!” the British icon responded with an extra number of hits, “Sign of the Times”, the unreleased fan favorite, “Medicine” and the hit list “Watermelon Sugar”. For the final track, Styles rocked out to the sound of “Kiwi” from his self-titled debut album from 2017. Consider the arena as officially christened.
The new billion-dollar facility, named after the Swiss bank and home of the New York Islanders, was clearly designed for comfort. There is plenty of space for visitors to move around, as well as a variety of food vendors and bars. The most impressive element of the arena, however, is its seating structure. Although the building holds 19,000, there are really no seats with nosebleeds due to the shape in which each section is layered – not to mention a crisp sound system in a room that feels intimate despite being a hockey arena.
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