Almost from the very first gig, Harry Styles has gotten used to playing for thousands of screaming, adoring fans. But in his NPR Tiny Desk debut concert, Harry stripped things all the way back for a peaceful, easy feeling four-song set that spotlighted his Fine Line album, peeling the songs back to coffee house melodies that shined a light on his intimate songwriting.
The set kicked off with an acoustic ramble through “Cherry,” before picking up the tempo a bit for a track Styles said he wrote in Nashville in 2017 on a day off from the tour for his solo debut. “It’s probably the longest it’s ever taken me to finish a song,” he explained. “We kind of liked it when we first had it and then I really hated it for a long time and it kind of came back and it seemed to kind of kept coming back into the mix.”
Styles said the song describes that “initial euphoria” of new love and the longing and excitement came through in the unplugged, funky arrangement, spotlighted by a triple acoustic guitar attack and angelic backing vocals from the band’s female drummer, keyboard player and rhythm guitarist.
Harry couldn’t say enough nice things about playing the small-room gig, shouting out a particular group of fans who were dancing in place and giving him some life. After telling the story behind “To Be So Lonely” — including the unfortunate bit where everyone seems to sing along loudest to the line about him being an “arrogant bastard” — Styles worked through a jaunty, hand-clapping version of the musical mea culpa.
The set ended with a song about a fish… okay actually another one about that first rush of love, “Adore You.” The stripped-back acoustic funk version of the song was elevated by drummer Sarah Jones, guitarist Ny Oh and piano player Charlotte Clark’s powerful backing vocals.
Watch Harry Styles’ Tiny Desk concert below.