Stuart C. Wilson/Getty
November 17, 2014 04:45 PM

Monday was a very important day for One Direction.

At the crack of dawn, the band arrived at Universal CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort to perform several of their biggest hits. The concert, broadcast by the Today show, was their first gig to promote their latest album, Four.

As PEOPLE watched from backstage, the band cruised up to the waterside stage in a motorboat. The crowd of more than 15,000 people reacted with deafening screams.

But when the boy band took the stage, one member was missing: Zayn Malik hadn’t made the trek from London on Sunday night.

Today host Matt Lauer addressed the question directly during the show.

“I’m counting chairs here and I see four,” he said. “Normally, we’re used to seeing five. Where’s Zayn?”

“He’s got a tummy bug so he’s not very well at the moment, so he couldn’t make it over,” bandmate Liam Payne answered. “We only found out this morning, so we’re very sad and he is, as well, that he can’t be here for our album release day. It’s still going to be a really great day.”

Lauer pressed on. “There’s been a lot of action on social media about him,” he said. “Is it something more serious than just a minor illness? There have been rumors of substance abuse. What’s going on?”

“No, he’s just got a stomach bug,” Payne responded. “He’s okay. He’s just at home; he needs to rest. He’s okay.”

As for when Malik will join the band, “We’re not sure yet,” Payne said. “We’re just waiting for a phone call from him.”

During one of the breaks, Horan addressed the crowd about Malik.

“We really miss him,” he said. “We can’t wait for him to get better. We really want to have him here.”

Despite Malik’s absence, the stars of Today were still happy with the concert.

“Their new album is called Four,” weatherman Al Roker quipped to PEOPLE backstage. “Maybe they knew that Zayn would be missing all along. No, seriously, we hope he gets better soon.”

“I took an obligatory selfie with the band to show my kids,” Lauer told PEOPLE. “I don’t think they’ll be too fazed by the fact that there were only four of them today. They still put on a fantastic show.”

Watch the interview below:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Want more stories like this?

Sign up for our newsletter and other special offers:

sign me up

Thank you for signing up!

You May Like

EDIT POST