Welcome to Part 7 of Road Kill. This part will cover the four gigs of the South Africa/Dubai leg of the tour which followed directly after the East Asia leg concluded with no break. The locations are Johannesburg, Cape Town and Dubai. The dates are March 26 thru April 4. These four gigs were the last before the boys would enter an extended two month gap in the tour covering most of April and all of May. By now, that long break was obviously needed.
And there were only four of them. They didn't know if the fanbase wouldn't support the new foursome. All of us, fandom and band were all entering new territory.
So the question was, would One Direction be accepted in this new form?
Meanwhile, we will have to continue following Zayn, now back in London, because his shadow over the tour was not going to go away.
Recapping the Recap:
Part One Setting the Stage
Part Two Australia the Set List, Partying and "Nelly"
Part Three Japan Cool, Quiet, Polite Foreboding
Part Four Tour Break On The Edge
Part Five East Asia On Fire
Part Six East Asia in Ashes
March 26 - Johannesburg, South Africa
Let's begin with the airport arrival. Fans were there to greet the boys, and they were photographed walking through the airport. They looked serious. Note, Louis apparently stayed behind for an extra day in Bangkok, and he arrived in Johannesburg on the 27th.
Meanwhile the fandom was in desperate need of reassurance, and the boys had been fairly quiet on Social media.
Liam changed that on the night of the 26th with this message on Twitter. This is very much in keeping with the tradition of Liam being the voice of calm and comfort during times of trouble. He is still Daddy Direction when the band hits rough waters.
The boys were unusually quiet during their entire stay in South Africa. They arrived on the 26th, but were not much seen outside their hotel. even though the first Johannesburg concert wasn't until the 28th. Most likely, during these days, they were immersed in paperwork related to losing a member. Lets not forget there were many legal matters which had to be dealt with, and decisions which had to be made.
The same can not be said of their former member...
March 26 and 27 - London - The Normal 22 Year Old
Two things of note happened on the 26th back in London. The first related to the disposition of Zerrie. Perrie was seen again, and this time, she looked radiant. Engagement ring flashing.
Later in the day,and for several days to come, Zayn turned up at Naughty Boy's Studio. And the Paps were all over it.
On the 27th, Zayn gave an exclusive interview with The Sun. Dan Wooton, or course. In the interview, he gave obligatory apologies to fans he had let down, but also said:
"I did try to do something that I wasn’t happy doing for a while, for the sake of maybe other people’s happiness – and that was mainly the fans. And I only ever tried to do it for the fans, and it was only ever for them. And, basically, I’m only upset I feel like I may have let them down in some sort of way. That’s the main thing that I don’t want to happen. It’s not that I’ve turned my back on them or anything, it’s just that I just can’t do that anymore because it’s not real to me.”
He used the phrase "it's not real to me" several times in the interview.
Regardless of Zayn's intent, the pap photos in the studio with Naughty Boy, along with the interview were the first items that began catalyzing the fan base's support behind OT4. Many fans were unhappy with the implication that Zayn was going immediately into working solo material, literally the day after his departure was announced. This was very much at odds with the statement on Facebook that Zayn wanted to be a "normal 22 year old".
The phrase "Normal 22 year old" continues to haunt Zayn to this day.
March 28 - Johannesburg - First Official OT4 Gig
The first Gig in JoBurg was before a packed house of 95,000 people. This audience got to witness the birth of the new 1D. The first change to note is that the Tour Screens were now edited, and all shots of Zayn had been removed. (No doubt a video editor back in London had to burn some midnight oil for that...) The second was that they introduced themselves as "One Direction" for the first time since Zayn left.
Harry emphatically did the honors. (See the below at 1:01 - "WE ARE ONE DIRECTION")
Throughout the concert, the band expressed their gratitude to the fans many, many times. I know they always are grateful, but they seemed particularly humble this night. Maybe even a bit too humble. At one point, Harry told the fans they could throw things at them if they wanted to. And this happened:
Not one of Harry's best ideas... ;) Don't do that again!
Although Zayn wasn't mentioned, it was emotional. Reportedly Liam left the stage in tears during Through the Dark, though I've seen no footage of this. But he was clearly emotional. Liam and Louis co-wrote this song, and many have interpreted Through The Dark to be an OT5 Love song.
Another change was the What Makes You Beautiful formation. Whereas in Manila and Jakarta, they left Zayn's spot open, now they began experimenting with new formations. This is what they settled on for this gig.
Don't worry, they would keep experimenting...
March 29 - Johannesburg night 2
The second night in JoBurg was a fun one.
Before the concert, the boys posed for their first official photo as a Foursome. The photo was later published in the Sun with their first post Zayn interview. The interview was very generic, and didn't really say much. But the photo was nice.
They also posed for this on-stage photo during the show.
Perhaps the greatest moment was when someone threw Angel Wings onstage, and Harry played Victoria's Secret model to the joy and delight of all.
Both nights in Johannesburg were before packed houses, and were among the largest gigs that 1D has ever done. I think the enthusiasm and love of these audiences did wonders for the fandom, and for the boys themselves.
March 30-31 - South Africa
Between Johannesburg and Capetown, Liam and Niall were able to fit in going on a Safari. However, they did not post photos. The information came via the Instagram of friends who travelled with them. I'm very glad they got to do this, because Niall described this as a "bucket list" item.
March 30 - Song Leaks and Twitter War 1
While OT4 was learning to fly in Africa, Zayn continued to spend his time in Naughty Boy's studio. Naughty Boy can be quite contentious on social media, and this was causing a lot of tension in the fandom. In fact, much of the "Zaughty" drama unfolded because Naughty actively promoted his relationship with Zayn on Twitter. The Twitter fandom had a huge backlash against him and this resulted in some epic Twitter Wars which would embroil the fanbase on several occasions over the following months.
Before discussing this, I'm going to point out that Naughty Boy is a grown-up 30 year old man with a career. So one does wonder why he decided to take on the 1D fanbase in this way. On the other hand, the 1D Fanbase (young and female) was quite cruel to him in regards to his appearance, and often could be described as horribly racist in terms of how they treated him.
Naughty Boy took it upon himself, as a result of this Twitter War to leak one of Zayn's Demos called I Don't Mind. The song was deleted soon after, but it's brief appearance made headlines in Billboard and Rolling Stone. This will not be the last time that Naughty Boy would leak a song...
<--Some of Louis' Tweets from this particular Twitter Skirmish
In general the fandom praised Louis for supporting them and defending them against Naughty Boy's swipes in this particular skirmish. Louis was the hailed as the fandom's Hero in all of this nonsense,
And the fanbase rallied all the more to OT4...
April 1 - Cape Town, South Africa
Back to Cape Town, Louis posted the crowd singing Little Things on his Instagram. The response of the crowd was absolutly beautiful and I'm glad Louis filmed this.
April 2 - Cannes, France - Zerrie Take a Vacation
In the midst of all this, Zayn with Perrie and some of his family members decided to have a vacation in Cannes. They were papped at the private airport, and posted many Intagrams of the trip. When they left for this trip, some hoped that perhaps he was going to join the band for the Dubai concert, but alas, such was not to be.
April 4 - Dubai
And yet, even still, there was one huge concert left on this leg of the tour. And it was a highly anticipated event as it was 1D's first ever concert in that part of the world. Dubai.
The fans in Dubai were extremely enthusiastic. So much so, that their were problems with people trying to crowd int towards the front, to the point that the concert was stopped for ten minutes in the middle in order to get fans to step back so as not to crush people in the front.
The pictures from this concert are quite nice.
April 4 - Home
So concluded the Asia/Africa leg of the tour. They returned home a in a completely different situation than they left, a mere 24 days before. But they had survived.
Immediately after the concert, Harry flew to Los Angeles, and Liam and Niall returned to London. Louis followed a few days later after vacationing with his family for several days in Dubai.
And through it all, somehow, the Fandom had survived too, and though, of course, Zayn Girls would start dropping off to follow their idol on his new adventure, most of the fans rallied to the cause of Harry, Liam, Louis and Niall - ONE DIRECTION.
<-- Fanart like this became the new normal.
OT4 now entered an extended break which would last two full months. But don't worry, this was a working break, and there was constant activity that will be covered in the next two recaps. The next Recap will cover April. April saw the boys participate in some gorgeous charity events, and lots and lots of song writing. Party Boy Louis re-emerged, and the phrases "Oh No Niall" and "Clean Living" entered the Lexicon.
And this one has gone on long enough.