“If I’ve got these lot behind me, who the fuck is gonna stop us.” – Louis Tomlinson at the Away From Home Festival 2021
Louis Tomlinson has had a special connection with music from a very young age. He has seen thousands and thousands of fans love him all around the world since he was 18. You might think all that love, all that fame and all that glory, would change someone but not Louis. If you look hard enough you can still see the excited and nervous kid who asked for a second chance in his 2010 audition.
On 29th July 2021 Louis broke the internet when he announced the first Away From Home Festival. He has said again and again that being a part of something like a big music festival has always been a dream of his. “I’m very, very excited. I had basically penciled down a plan before corona took over our lives,” Louis told The Telegraph in November 2020. “And now it’s kind of given me a little bit of time to really get into what I want things to sound like. I was really proud of my first record, but there were moments that I felt were truer to me than others.”
That year 6000 fans won the lucky ticket to the festival for free and the rest paid a small fee for the livestream and an exclusive documentary. The festival was held at the Crystal Palace Bowl, a venue with a beautiful history of live music, and a legacy of love, going back more than a century.
The venue held roughly 10,000 people with an impressive line-up of great up-and-coming artists such as Jess Iszatt, BILK, The Snuts and of course Tommo himself. Between performing his set which lasted for about 70 minutes, our Lou gave an emotional speech saying, “Only done two tour shows before now, and I don’t really know what to expect. Honestly, throughout this whole gig, all I feel is excited about what’s to come. I try in these moments to show you my thanks, but honestly, I can’t even articulate it. I just fucking love all of you.” Even from hundreds of miles away I could feel the love from him as I watched through a tiny screen.
While I didn’t think it was possible for Louis to outdo himself after such an incredible show, he proved me wrong in 2022. The second annual Away From Home Festival was held in Malaga, Spain. In tradition with the first festival, this one was also sold out before the day of the event.
Prior to Louis’ angel-like performance, we were treated to incredible performances of Sunroom, The Vaccines, and The Hinds, alongside a new band- The Voodoos. While the other bands played Louis could be spotted just off stage watching along with the fans.
I’m sure Louis felt awe as he looked at the crowd of 17,000- not to mention over 60,000!! people on Instagram live- all gathered at Marenostrum Music Castle in Málaga for boo-bear. This isn’t even a fraction of the love that we have for Louis William Tomlinson. He loves us just as much as we love him, we need him and he needs us.
We had our ways of showing love and he had his. He opened a merch stand in the castle even for people who didn’t have a ticket, he gave customized reusable cups for drinking water, provided free bottles of water, added vegan and gluten-free options for food, and made sure the crowd was hydrated at all times.
The setlist had many tracks from the beloved album Walls, though “Too Young,” “Two Of Us,” and “Perfect Now” will be extremely missed, he remained loyal to “Change(s)” and “Copy of a Copy of a Copy,” along with his soulful covers of “7,” and “Beautiful War.” No matter how successful our Louis becomes, or how many albums he has, One direction will always be a part of him and hopefully the setlist! Louis’ versions of “Drag me down,” “Little Black Dress,” and, “Through the Dark,” are rightfully worshipped.
What shocked everyone was Louis’ indie-rock version of the iconic song, “Night changes.” It wasn’t a surprise to later learn that the idea to start off the song as a new was entirely Louis’. The song to follow this nostalgic stroll down memory lane was “7” – by Catfish and The Bottlemen, giving fans, “It’ll never change me and you…Larry,” creating a fluster in the fandom.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Louis has been cryptic about things, yes I am talking about 28, 369, and now the YouTube community anagrams. Louis loves to, as the other one pointed out, overstimulate us.
Louis is one of the most gifted songwriters of our time and that has been evident since the early days of One Direction. Whether it’s songs for fractured love like “Always You,” a tribute to the lost ones in the form of “Two Of Us,” or a safe place for LGBTQIA+ community with “Only The Brave,” his music, tour shows, and festivals have created a home for us. Louis has been Home for us.
From thinking that he could never be part of something so big, that this would remain a dream of his, to curating the now annual Away From Home Festival, Louis has come a long way. He has grown but remained humble. Louis Tomlinson has the bravest heart, he has been through hell, lost some people closest to him, been denied his rights of basic humanity over and over again, but he fought and he fought beautifully. Louis Tomlinson is many things, he means something different to everyone but in his heart he is a warrior and a poet.
If you want to get notified for details about the 2023 Away From Home Festival follow @AFHFestival