When Harry Styles stepped on the stage set up at Rockefeller Plaza Tuesday morning (May 9), dressed in a black shirt and richly colored pink suit (that Matt Lauer said he was jealous of), it was pure pandemonium — some fans had been waiting for days for this moment.
“Our line started to form on Saturday afternoon,” Alex Ficquette, TODAY‘s plaza producer, tells Billboard. “They were in sleeping bags, the line hit six city blocks this morning. I haven’t seen it this crazy since Justin Bieber last year.”
Styles was not only kicking off the Citi Concert Series on TODAY‘s summer lineup, but also delivering his second-ever live performance (his first being on Saturday Night Live weeks prior). During his SNL performance, he debuted the track “Ever Since New York,” and though the song has yet to see an official release, that didn’t prevent the young, primarily female, crowd from singing every lyric.
This morning, Styles performed that track again as well as his hit “Sign of the Times” (he released the music video yesterday), and also debuted a new song: the bluesy, rock-driven “Carolina” that features a catchy chorus of “la la la’s” while Styles repeatedly sings, “She’s a good girl.”
“There’s a distinct energy here of people who are excited to hear the solo material,” Ficquette says. That didn’t stop Styles from dipping his toes into an old One Direction song, though.
Before leaving the stage — it was specially built to be in the middle and lower to the ground than TODAY‘s normal stage, “so he could be completely surrounded by his fans, he wanted that,” says Ficquette — Styles had one final surprise. “I’ve never performed this before,” he said with his signature smirk. “Let’s see how it goes. I wrote this four years ago.” He then led fans through a sing-along of “Stockholm Syndrome,” off the 2014 1D album Four.
As Styles sang his opening verse, he brought new meaning to the lyrical question, “Who’s this whisper telling me that I’m never gonna get away?” Considering that on the chorus of “Sign of the Times” he sings over and over again, “We got to get away,” it’s clear Styles isn’t done chasing whatever he’s after… but following the stunning solo performance he delivered on TODAY, he appears to be headed in the right direction.