How Harry Styles’ ‘Love On Tour ’ Helped Bring Concerts & Fans Back
HAZZA ROAR: Harry Styles performs onstage during the opener for his “Love On Tour” at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 4, 2021, in Las Vegas. (Anthony Pham / Getty Images)
What Harry Styles’ “Love On Tour” just accomplished is mind-blowing in myriad ways that should give everyone in this industry, as well as every music fan alive, renewed confidence in a spectacular 2022. His 42-date arena tour over three months sold the most tickets in 2021—no easy feat in this most challenging of years.
First and foremost, the “Love On Tour” was awesome. The joyous, wildly inclusive and non-judgmental atmosphere created by Styles’ prodigious talents in combination with his flamboyantly bedazzled and self-empowered fans was transformative, much in the same way his phenomenal show transformed cavernous arenas into what felt like a banging technicolored night club.
Pollstar 2021 Year End Special Issue: The Great Return
“His fans are just incredible,” says Jeffrey Azoff, whose team at Full Stop Management manages Styles. “Honestly they became a part of the show in so many ways. They created an environment where everyone in the room felt free and safe.”
Styles, just 27, is a preternaturally talented entertainer, one who long ago transcended the confines of his early One Direction “Hazza” days, releasing two critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums with 2018’s “Live On Tour” ranking No. 27 on Pollstar’s Year End Top 100 Worldwide Tours chart.
The “Love On Tour” took it to another level. His last album, Fine Line, which came out in December 2019, just before the pandemic, is a chart-topper and one of the most innovative pop /rock albums of the last decade, filled with future classics like the title track, “Watermelon Sugar,” “Golden,” “Adore You” and “Falling,” among others. For good reason, Fine Line was recently included in Rolling Stone’s updated “500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.” And fans, who had loved on tickets for two years, finally got to see these songs performed live and were rewarded richly as Styles and his six-piece band took the new tunes to dizzying heights.
Styles’ ecstatic performances, in which he’s in perpetual motion running miles upon miles circling arenas while singing in his rich and wide-ranging baritone and dancing his ass off – yet never breaking a sweat – is something to behold. And it’s all done in stylish and often feathery outfits few could pull off, thanks in large measure to stylist Harry Lambert.
Harry Styles during “Harryween” at Madison Square Garden on October 31, 2021 in New York. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for HS)
That Styles and his team had the fortitude to mount a 42-date arena tour over three months in this fraught year while selling nearly 720,000 tickets – the most of any artist in 2021 – means the “Love On Tour” played an arena on average every other night. This entailed traveling hundreds of miles between shows and forsaking sleep in the most challenging business environment in the history of the concert industry.
Beyond the global pandemic, there were labor shortages, supply chain hold-ups, inflation and greater expenses, fear in the marketplace and differing regulations, which is why many chose to push tours back to 2022.
“We wanted to show that touring again was possible, and I think Harry proved that,” says Azoff. “We all felt that if there was a way to do it safely, not only for our entire crew but also for everyone attending, it was worth doing. My biggest hope was that it would be a step in the right direction for all of us getting back to normalcy in the world, as well as the music business in particular.”
Azoff emphasizes the importance of making sure everyone was safe on the tour. He says, “We had such a great band and crew, and we asked a lot of them. I am very thankful they were up for the challenge.”
Harry Styles performing during the opening night of the “Love On Tour” at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sept. 4, 2021, in Las Vegas.
The grueling pace of “Love On Tour” meant, for example, having to travel from St. Louis to Philadelphia, Raleigh to Pittsburgh or Boston to Atlanta in only two days’ time with a full-on production.
“No one that was a part of the ‘Love On Tour’ bubble ever came in contact with anyone who wasn’t fully vaccinated, tested and wearing a mask. That was very challenging,” says Azoff.
The creative in-the-round set-up, which is partially why Styles ran in circles for a good two hours, was the brainchild of Styles with consultation from his creative director Molly Hawkins and stage designer Baz Halpin.
In addition to its innovate and sleek design, it helped maximize attendance. Ticket totals surpassed most buildings’ averages. State Farm Arena in Atlanta, for example, has an average of 9,186 tickets per show, according to Pollstar’s database, but “Love On Tour” averaged 15,573 on two consecutive nights; at D.C.’s Capital One Arena, which averages 10,260, “Love On Tour” had 18,903 tickets. His in-the-round average, according to Pollstar data, was a massive 17,120 per show.
All of this helps explain why the tour’s ticket sales of 719,060 tickets at 42 arena shows (three of which fell outside Pollstar’s chart year) was the highest on the 2021 Year End Worldwide Tours Chart, which bodes incredibly well for 2022.
If Styles were to continue at that clip for a full year, his ticket sales would reach 2.87 million, more than anyone on the pre-pandemic 2019 Top 100 Worldwide Chart and trailing only Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift, who had massive stadium runs, on 2018’s chart. He also did it at a lower ticket price than four of the other top 10 tours of 2021, yet had the year’s second highest gross behind only The Rolling Stones.
Azoff, first and foremost, repeatedly credits Styles for the tour’s success: “Harry makes everyone who works with him look a lot smarter than they actually are, especially me.” He also shouts out the band, whom he refers to as “legends,” his Full Stop colleagues Tommy Bruce and Tom Skoglund, who were out on the entire run to keep the trains running on time, and the tour’s production manager Ski among others.
When asked his favorite moment from the “Love On Tour,” Azoff says, “The second Harry and the band went on stage at UBS Arena knowing that we just got through 42 shows without missing one, that was my favorite moment of the entire tour.”