Christmas came early for a select group of One Direction fans in Los Angeles Thursday night when, during an intimate performance by Niall Horan at L.A.’s Troubador, his former bandmate Louis Tomlinson showed up to support Horan’s show, presented by Spotify.
Tomlinson appeared in the balcony overlooking the stage moments before Horan, 24, began his performance — an exclusive preview set off his upcoming album Flicker — and was greeted with excited shrieks of delight from the fans gathered below. But the laser focus from the fans shifted to Horan the minute he stepped onstage.
“I know there are massive fans in this room because Spotify have whittled it down to the people who listen to my music most,” said the singer, amid screams and squeals, in his introduction to the crowd. “That’s a really cool thing to be able to do actually. I’ve wanted to play this venue since I was about 10 years old, so I appreciate that you came to watch.”
Horan treated his captive, enthusiastic audience (which included VIP fans Shania Twain and Thomas Rhett) to an early listen of almost all of the songs featured on his debut album — from the title track, to his new single “Too Much to Ask,” and of course his hit “Slow Hands.”
“Lyrically this is the song that means the most to me,” he told the audience of “Flicker,” noting that in addition to having an effect on Horan himself, the song left an impression on his jaded session musicians during their recording sessions.
“It was a really poignant moment in [recording] the album,” he revealed. “There was a session band doing session music every day of the week and they don’t really have to care about what they’re going to play. We’re talking about 30-40-year-old guys who do this for a living, they don’t have to care, but we started recording ‘Flicker’ and after about two takes, there was emotion kicking off in the room. There was a 45-year-old man with tears dripping down his face, which is what you want when you write a song like this.”
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Later in the show, Horan returned to his One Direction roots by performing an acoustic cover of the band’s song “Fool’s Gold,” written by Tomlinson. Although the crowd started chanting “Louis! Louis! Louis!” and Horan gave him a shout-out and jokingly invited his pal to join him onstage, Tomlinson remained in his seat, smiling and content with his friend owning the spotlight. Tomlinson seemed moved and very proud of his former bandmate’s rendition of his song, in addition to the rest of the set.
The two later shared a very friendly hug and chat at the event’s intimate after party (which Horan’s celeb fan Twain also attended) above the venue. Tomlinson appeared to be in great spirits and happy to be there supporting Horan, who seemed equally appreciative of his friend for attending.
“I really can’t wait for you to hear this album,” Horan said in his goodbye comments to the crowd. “Thanks so much for the lovely response so far. I call L.A. my second home now. It only took me about 15 minutes to get here, it was great. Thanks for being so patient with me, it’s been an unbelievable year.”
Die-hard fans Peyton and Julia gave Horan’s overall performance very high marks.
“It’s very Niall,” Julia said of Horan’s new sound. “It sounds like he put a lot of work into it and really enjoys making the music, it’s kind of his vibe, which is nice.”
Added her friend Peyton, “It’s definitely the kind of thing you’d expect from him,” she said. “It’s great that he’s sticking to it and staying true to himself and what he wants to do.”