If two shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden in a single week weren’t enough to alert you to the massive moment that One Direction is currently having, the group’s surrogate family at The X Factor reminded the world just how huge these five guys are poised to become. 1D returned to where they got their start on Sunday, performing on the season finale live from Manchester Central. In a night that was supposed to be about the competition between Jahmene Douglas and ultimate winner James Arthur, the show made time to honor one of its most successful outputs of late with the kind of highlight reel typically reserved for Super Bowl champions and the late-night television rotation. Following their homecoming appearance on the show Stateside, it’s safe to say the guys can still feel comfortable calling Simon Cowell et al. when they’re in a bind.
Along with Rihanna, 1D was on hand to serve as the night’s entertainment and temporary stress reliever. Booking these guys also provides some filler dialogue for producers, as they were asked to remember what they were feeling during their own finale two years ago and dole out advice for current finalists. Performing soon to be third single, “Kiss You,” the guys were backed by video game graphics boasting a cheeky “Game Over” and traveled all corners of the stadium to drive their message home. Zayn experienced some technical difficulties during the second verse when his mic appeared to go out, causing him to fall out of sync with the backing track. Things recovered nicely and the crowd certainly didn’t seem to mind (or notice), but he was caught expressing his frustration to Harry following the performance (about 5:00) just like the true diva he is—and we mean that in the best way! Those vocal runs demand prominent placement on next year’s Divas Live. Watch 1D return to their TV home away from home below.