According to old reports, during the height of Beatlemania, the Liverpudlians’ live shows were halted due to the sheer volume of screams coming from the adoring audience drowning out the struggling loudspeakers. Technology has clearly advanced so much since then (this gig had its own mobile phone app for God’s sake) meaning 80,000 shrieking Directioners should be no match for the modern speakers. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. The feedback from both those on the pitch and those in the stands was less than favourable, with many claiming they struggled to hear the One Direction lads for large portions of the show.

However disappointing that was, it’s not the band’s fault. They put on a flawless show, devoid of any nerves despite it being the largest crowd they’d played to in their four year career to date. Right from the opening salvo which included Midnight Memories and Kiss You, both accompanied by a flashy fireworks display, the lads are on top form. And that’s exactly what they are, a bunch of lads. There are no gimmicky dance routines or cringe worthy key changes (hello Westlife!). It’s five young guys blessed with charm, charisma and just a pinch of good looks.

One Direction may be a five-piece but if local boy Niall Horan had turned up on his own tonight, it’s not likely many would have noticed. Such is the attention he’s given throughout. Vocally he’s not the strongest member of the group but nobody was given the chance to notice. Every time the Mullingar native appeared on screen or even began to open his mouth, an eardrum bursting chorus of screams greeted him. This is Ireland’s biggest ever popstar playing in his nation’s biggest arena. Many have dreamt about it, he’s living it. Don’t Forget Where You Belong, written by Horan himself, brings a tear to the eyes of a few…thousand. Given Croker was the venue for Niall’s X Factor audition four years ago, it’s a particularly poignant moment.

Highlights of the night weren’t hard to come by but the staging for One Thing which was performed on an elevated platform in the centre of the pitch and featured 8 pixel video game impressions of Harry and co along and the sing-along for the Ed Sheeran penned Little Things stand above the others by some distance. Début single What Makes You Beautiful closes out the main set with a reminder of how far One Direction have come since finishing third in 2010?s X Factor.  Scanning the stadium during closing track Best Song Ever one would find it very difficult to begrudge them their success. There’s pure joy and ecstasy etched on the faces of tens of thousands of young people but the biggest smile of all belongs to a cheeky young Irish man living the dream.

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Photos: Tara Thomas