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The Phoenix In Ashes

The Story so far:


Part One Setting the Stage
Part Two Australia when all we worried about was the Set List and "Nelly"
Part Three Japan which was cool, and quiet and polite but the signs of trouble were there
Part Four The Last Deep Breath Before the Fall
Part Five The Phoenix on Fire


***

This is the sixth part of my OTRA Tour Recap. The last part covered the harrowing doings in East Asia leading to Zayn's signing off the tour citing stress. And by harrowing, I mean hard partying.

This part will cover the last three gigs of the East Asia Tour, encompassing the two in Manila and the one in Jakarta. Those gigs were the first with OT4, as they would come to be known. Only, at this point, there was still an expectation that Zayn would be back. In fact, initially, 1DHQ suggested that these would be the only concerts Zayn would miss, and that he'd be back for South Africa and Dubai. So this part, then, is the story of how those expectations came crashing down. And that wasn't even all. There was another shocking surprise as well.


***

March 18/19 - The Fandom

Let's start with the fandom in the wake of Zayn's sign off. As you can imagine - the freakout and anxiety were real. Zayn's name trended constantly for at least 3 days in one form or another. At this point, the fandom sympathy was entirely on his side. People were worried and concerned for his well being, and that was the main reaction at this point.

Comforting fanart began to circulate, as the fandom awaited the news of Zayn's hoped for return for Africa and Dubai.




And so the fandom held it's collective breath and waited...


March 19 - Hong Kong - OT4

Meanwhile, the rest of the group remained in Hong Kong the night of the 18th into the 19th while Zayn was flying back to the UK. The band was scheduled to film an ad for Coca-Cola On the 19th.

Their only acknowledgement that something was wrong was an Instagram post from Liam captioned "This should lighten the mood": It was a funny video of Niall in costume as an old man speaking Gaelic.



Later we learned that this costume was part of the Coke commercial. And funnily enough, Niall became very attached to that hat. He wore it regularly all Spring. There are websites devoted to it...


So, This Coke commercial became the the first item to feature the New One Direction, i.e. OT4. Harry, Liam, Niall and Louis.







 <-- We saw this picture later, and there is Niall in the costume from Liam's instagram.  Ironically, the theme of the ad was "True Friendship".

At some point after the commercial, most of the boys returned to Phuket, where they would spend the next two days pending the trip to Manila. They would be in and out of Phuket between concerts for the rest of the Asian Tour.

March 20 - London - Zayn's Arrival

Zayn arrived back in London in the wee hours of the 20th, looking a little bedraggled and indeed stressed after the 12 hour flight.



And of course, given Zayn's tweet, there was immediate interest in, and drama surrounding the the Zerrie situation. Perrie was seen leaving their home early in the day, several hours after he arrived. She wasn't seen again for over 24 hours. It was duly noted by the press that she was still wearing the engagement ring, even though she also seemed to be carrying an overnight bag.  So the situation remained ambiguous for several days.



***

March 21 - Manila Day One- OT4 Concert

Back in East Asia, all eyes were now glued to Manila, the next stop On The Road Again. Of concern was an edict by the Philippine government that Louis and Zayn would have to post a bond or take a drug test gauranteeing that they would not be using drugs before entering the country as a consequence of the Weed Video. Some speculation existed at the time that the ulterior motive for Zayn's exit was to avoid this test, which he might not be able to pass. (Whether Louis had to take a drug test or not has never been disclosed.)

One Direction Had a Tradition prior to Zayn's exit, that they would never call themselves "One Direction" on stage unless all five members were present. Accordingly, they introduced themselves in Manila and Jakarta as "Harry, Liam, Niall and Louis".

This Iconic OT4 GIF is from the first Manila show





 <-- Singing Little Things



During those first few shows after the departure, much was made of the What Makes You Beautiful Formation.

Here for reference is the Classic OT5 WMYB Formation, a pyramid with Harry in front, Liam & Zayn behind him Louis and Niall behind them.

 <-- God, look at those children circa early 2013.




In these first days, they attempted to keep Zayn's spot in the formation open in the belief he would return.

March 22 - London - Elounor Breaks

In the midst of all this Zayn drama, a second story also rocked the fandom on the 22nd. As I described in an earlier post, Both Louis and Eleanor were behaving differently during the tour break. Eleanor had opened up on social media, and made it clearly obvious that she was in L.A. on a girls's vactaion.  Louis also made sure that he was seen partying in London with his Lad Crew.   To sum up, they had not spent that time together, and made sure the world knew it.

On top of that Louis, along with Zayn, had been seen extravagantly partying it up and enjoying the night life in Bangkok and Phuket.

On the 22nd, this picture and story was published in the Sun, apparently taken in Bangkok during the epic Zouis party spree. Remember that rumor about 20 girls being invited to their pool party one night after clubbing in Bankok?



Along with the photo came the confirmation from 1DHQ that Elounor was broken up their four year relationship, reportedly two weeks before. To the fandom, this news alone would have been enough to cause drama for a months. (The Larries were annoying about it for months anyway... Blah...)  But in the midst of Zayn's departure, it felt like an after thought to most fans.

But it was interesting enough that for the next several days, Eleanor was solo papped near her home.




March 22 - Manila Day Two

March 23 opened with a sweet picture that Liam posted of Sophia (who had apparently headed home after Hong Kong.) Of course Ziams interpreted this as a secret coded message about who he "really" missed...

<-- That is apparently taken at the sweeeeet luxury villa where they stayed in Phuket.

But later that day, Liam got into a bit of trouble with the fandom over this photo op of the boys receiving an award for album sales.  He smiled and covered up Zayn's face with his hand for the picture.



The Fandom wasn't ready yet for Liam having a bit of humor over the missing Zayn.

During the concert, all eyes were on Louis, given the news of the breakup. He seemed fine.  Even happy on the stage.  The biggest story about him was that someone threw a cheeseburger on stage. So he ate it.

 <-- Eating the burger.



 <-- Other pictures from Manila night two



The Larries made much of the fact that the group briefly ad-libed the song, "I will survive", which may or may not have been an response to the news of the breakup.



March 22 - London - Zayn Sighting

 <-- Zayn papped leaving his home before the bomb dropped


While OT4 was on the stage, keeping Zayn's spot open, and calling themselves  "Harry, Liam, Louis and Niall" rather thatn "One Direction", the tone of the press regarding Zayn's return was slowly changing.  By the 22nd, the quotes in the media regarding his return no longer spoke of his impending return for South Africa.  Words such as "if" and "may" began to appear in referencing Zayn's return.

quotes such as this one began to appear in the media:


"The pop hunk has instructed his lawyers to see if “get-out” clauses will allow him to quit the band.  Zayn’s representatives are to examine his music and commercial contracts to see where he stands."

So, the tide was going out on OT5 even if the fandom was in denial of that fact...


March 25 - Jakarta and the Bomb Drops


The final show of the Asian leg was in Jakarta.  As in Manila, the boys introduced themselves as "Harry, Liam, Louis and Niall" rather than One Direction.  And they also continued to use the same video at the beginning of the show with all five members.

But there was something different and more emotional in the tone.

Liam seemed to be crying at one point.



So did Harry



But there was also a very shippy Niam moment...



And everything really seemed normal, if perhaps a bit more emotional than normal in retrospect.



Immediately after the concert, IDHQ published the following message on Facebook:


"My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined.  But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I'd like to apologize to the fans if I've let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart. I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.  I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world."

And there it was.


The Fandom

The outpouring of grief in the fandom was very intense during these first few days. I'll let some of the fan art speak for itself.



And here is where I will leave the East Asia tour behind. Because OT4 left shortly after the Jakarta show to fly to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Where the Story continued.

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