Harry Styles brings ‘Love’ and kindness to San Diego

Musicians on a stage with video projected above
Harry Styles performing in San Diego on Nov. 15, 2021.
(Nina Garin)

If you could turn love into an object — a vessel for positivity and hopes and dreams — what would it look like?

A hand-knit sweater?

A feather boa?

A strawberry costume?

A handmade sign?

A music fan in a white cowboy hat with dangling sparkles
Fans, like Gio Alvarado showed off their style at the sold-out Harry Styles concert.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

These were just some of the ways fans expressed their love for pop star Harry Styles at his Pechanga Arena San Diego concert on Monday night, a highly anticipated event that was postponed twice due to the pandemic.

During that pause, the former One Direction singer went from boyband heartthrob to a Grammy-winning artist and Vogue magazine cover model, crossing over into the kind of success that makes his Love On Tour concerts the coolest and most coveted places to be.

In San Diego, people of all ages — though predominantly young women — traveled from all over the state to be in the presence of Styles (and according to Page Six, even Styles’ own mother was there, along with rumored girlfriend Olivia Wilde and her young kids).

Many dressed in carefully crafted, sparkly outfits. Some brought gifts to throw on stage, like flowers, hats, and Pride and Black Lives Matter flags. Others crafted signs in hopes that Styles would actually, maybe notice them in the crowd.

These concerts are more than just Styles performing songs from his multi-platinum solo album, “Fine Line.” They’ve evolved into gatherings of love and acceptance, where people can wear what they want, dance how they feel, and as Styles puts it, “sing like no one’s listening.”

Three people standing in colorful outfits outside a music arena
Fans before the sold-out Harry Styles concert at Pechanga Arena on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

You want to wear a princess dress? Wear it. You want to do a choreographed group dance during “Treat People With Kindness?” Go for it, and don’t be surprised if strangers join you. You want to scream “I love you” while Styles quietly sings “Cherry” with an acoustic guitar? Totally fine.

The joyous mood for the one-hour-and-45-minute concert was set from the start, as Styles emerged from the center of the stage singing “Golden” in his trademark wide-leg trousers and tailored button-up shirt (in San Diego, he wore appropriate beachy shades of light blue and seafoam green).

Backed by a six-piece band, Styles enthusiastically performed dance-friendly songs like “Adore You” and “Sunflower” on a stage that wasn’t just in-the-round, but also jutted out at two ends. Though cameras captured his every move, Styles was perpetually in motion, running in circles and from one side of the stage to the other, winking and waving at fans as he passed.

The mood got especially crazy during the one-two punch of “Treat People With Kindness” (where he waved the aforementioned Pride and BLM flags) followed by the One Direction hit “What Makes You Beautiful.”

Thankfully for his voice and lungs, there are plenty of ballads in his repertoire (that also includes music from his debut album, “Harry Styles”) so he slowed things down for songs like “Fine Line,” “Lights Up” and even during the encore performance of “Sign of the Times.”

He also took some time to notice all those tokens of love, stopping to banter with the crowd and read clever homemade signs. He encouraged a woman to stick it out at medical school, and had the crowd sing “Happy Birthday” to a woman who said it was her 21st birthday that night.

It’s in those moments that he proves his message of treating people kindly isn’t just performative. Near the end of the show, Styles genuinely thanked the fans, saying he knows he wouldn’t be standing on that stage if it wasn’t for them.

The show closed with the crowd-pleasing “Watermelon Sugar” and the Rolling Stones-inspired “Kiwi,” cementing that the 27-year-old musician isn’t just worthy of so many objects and tokens of love for one night, but he’ll likely be receiving them long into the future.