Thursday, 1 Jun 2023

How Harry Styles unknowingly called in the cavalry for his cover of The Horses

At a small country club in Launceston on Friday night, Daryl Braithwaite finished his set as he usually does – with The Horses, his signature and the song he first covered in 1991. Looking out to the crowd of 200 before he finished, a poster in the front row caught his eye.

“Show Harry how it is done!” read the sign, complete with pictures of pop superstar Harry Styles.

Harry Styles performed Horses as Daryl Braithwaite sang along with the Melbourne crowd on Saturday night.

Braithwaite and the 20-year-old fan, Jacob Hendry, started laughing. Styles, on tour in Australia for the first time in five years, had picked up the song that week and planned to work it into some of his Australian concerts, including the Saturday gig in Melbourne, the city where Braithwaite grew up.

The night before Styles was in Melbourne singing it to a packed-out Marvel Stadium, Braithwaite was belting The Horses out at Country Club Tasmania.

Naturally, Braithwaite hopped on a plane to see what all the fuss was about. Unbeknownst to Styles, the 74-year-old sang along, visibly touched by the performance.

“What an extraordinary night it was at Harry’s gig,” he wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “Harry Styles is so good at what he does and they loved him. I was completely overwhelmed by the night.”

“I was completely overwhelmed by the night.”

Styles first surprised audiences by singing The Horses in 2018 and then again in Perth last week. He says the song is like “like catnip” to Australians. In Perth, it spurred a crowd-strong singalong among the young and old.

Daryl Braithwaite was chuffed by a sign by a young fan encouraging him to “show Harry how it’s done”.Credit:Daryl Braithwaite

“I’ve been playing that a couple of times here and there,” Styles said of the song. “And every time you are around an Australian, this happens.”

Styles then turned his back to the Perth audience, pretended to hear the song, quickly twisting his head with interest, and asked: “Is that Daryl Braithwaite?”

On Saturday, after a rousing rendition, he told Melbourne fans: “I can feel Australia coursing through my veins. I can feel it.”

The Horses was written by American singer Rickie Lee Jones and songwriter Walter Becker for Jones’ 1989 album, Flying Cowboys. Braithwaite covered the song in 1991.

Hendry, the young fan who held up the Styles poster at Braithwaite’s concert, said, “nothing beats the real thing”; however, he added that Styles’ version was fantastic.

Hendry was supposed to see Styles with his friends in Melbourne but had to pull out because he was unwell. Instead, he went to a local concert to see Braithwaite with his mum (a long-time Sherbet fan).

“Instead of 200 at a country club singing it with you, you have 60,000 people singing it with you, so it’s a different feel,” Hendry said.

Before hearing Styles’ version of The Horses live on Saturday night, Braithwaite had said Styles did a good job based on what he’d seen from earlier gigs on social media.

“I think when we get people up to sing, sometimes they try to embellish the melody that’s actually there,” Braithwaite told Ben Fordham on 2GB. “But Harry kept as per the recording, and he did a great job.”

“It sounded great, and it looked mighty,” he said, laughing as he rated the performance 8/10.

“He did a great job,” Braithwaite said of Styles’ performance of The Horses.

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