The screams had been building up for more than a year, and Monday night it was finally time to let them out.
Wow, were they loud.
Fifteen months ago, tickets went on sale for this One Direction "Take Me Home" tour stop. For the young girls, it's been a lesson in patience and how to keep things in safe places. For the British pop sensations, it has meant a small fortune in interest on the ticket revenue and a guarantee that it could fill the place even if the hysteria had died down.
Clearly, no one stayed home, despite the fact that during that time One Direction doubled its number of Top 10 hits to arrive at two. Nonetheless, hysteria still follows the five boys wherever they go.
Monday night was the Pittsburgh debut for the boy group, which managed to do what The Beatles, the Stones, The Who, Radiohead and The Spice Girls never did: enter the U.S. charts at No. 1 as a British "band" with its debut album.
That makes One Direction the best of that bunch -- in the eyes of most of the teens and tweens in attendance.
The group, which sprung from the British show "The X Factor" in 2010 with the support of Simon Cowell, hit the stage with "Up All Night" and went about showcasing its basic formula of catchy puppy love songs mostly written, no surprise, by Swedes. If you're looking for fancy dance choreography, or any choreography for that matter, these aren't your boys. They get by without it, by just kind of running around on their multi-tiered stage with giant screens.
There's no standout lead singer, like Justin Timberlake in 'N Sync, and no instrumentalists, like the Jonas Brothers. Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, ?Harry Styles and ?Louis Tomlinson share the verses and generally nail the big choruses, on songs like "Loved You First" and the Backstreet Boys-sounding "One Thing."
Mr. Cowell would not have thrown them out in the world if they couldn't sing, so of course they also fared well caressing the melody of ballads like "More Than This," "Moments" and "Little Things." Whatever goof-ups or flat notes that might arise would be covered up by all the girls screaming and singing along, and maybe fainting, like it was the British Invasion of 1964.
The biggest thrill came when the five floated over the crowd on a platform during "Change My Mind." If they had walked to the middle stage, like Taylor Swift did Saturday at Heinz Field, there's no doubt their limbs would have been torn off.
Upon arriving at the smaller stage, they did a tepid cover of the Blondie classic "One Way or Another" and rocked more lustfully on the Undertones' "Teenage Kicks." They also had a laugh reading fan tweets, talking over each other in thick British accents. Later in the set, they added a croony cover of pop-punk song "Teenage Dirtbag," by the long-forgotten Wheatus, and got the place bouncing with the '60s pop of "She's Not Afraid."
One Direction kept all the kids in the hall till the very end by saving the biggest hits -- "Live While We're Young" and "That's What Makes You Beautiful" -- for the big balloon and confetti finish.
For the newly hearing-impaired chaperones, this likely wasn't the greatest teen-pop show, probably not even better than the more musical Jonases, but it was worth the yearlong wait for the fans. That's a fact because the boys asked them over and over again if they were having a good time.
The screams said loud and clear: THEY REALLY, REALLY WERE!!!
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576.