DARK clouds may have enveloped The Stadium of Light – and for that matter One Direction’s clean-cut image – but the world’s biggest boyband brightened up the North-East tonight (Wednesday).
More than 50,000 ‘Directioners’ braved the elements and put the disappointing headlines from earlier in the day to one side as the boys brought their Where We Are world tour to Sunderland.
A furore erupted after a video, posted on the Mail Online website and apparently filmed by Louis Tomlinson during the band’s tour in Peru, appeared to show him sharing a joint with bandmate Zayn Malik.
Tomlinson can be clearly heard saying: "So here we are, leaving Peru. Joint lit. Happy days!"
At one point smoke is seen being blown across the car.
A motorcycle police officer drives past and Tomlinson says: "He's having a look. He's thinking 'I'm sure I can smell an illegal substance in there'. And he's hit the nail on the head."
A spokesman for the band would only say: "This matter is in the hands of our lawyers."
Fans outside were largely supportive, despite the revelations.
Shelby Clark, 20, from Newcastle, said: "They could be doing worse, it's not that bad."
Her friend, Samantha Stirling, also 20 and from Newcastle, said: "At the end of the day, they are just young lads.
"I know it's prohibited, but they are under so much stress.
"It doesn't put us off - we wouldn't be here if it did."
Tamsin Thompson, 13, from Peterlee, County Durham, did not believe the allegations, saying: "It's not true, it's fake.
"It's not put me off."
While Deborah Pearson, from Chester-le-Street, dismissed the drug allegation, saying: "That's life. They are just young lads."
Her friend, Lynne Laidler, said: "They are still good lads."
After the tabloid fireworks, it was time for the real thing as the Wearside party began with an explosion of colour.
Schoolgirls had camped out in torrential rain to catch an early glimpse of the band and grab a front row position for what was one of the fast-selling gigs ever staged at the venue.
And Tomlinson, Malik, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Liam Payne did not disappoint when they emerged centre stage.
The boys - worth around £65m - proved their pulling power and were greeted by thousands of flags, hats, t-shirts - and multi-coloured ponchos - before breaking into set opener Midnight Memories.
The fever-pitch way in which that song was received set the tone for the rest of the concert as the boys worked their way through hit after hit after hit.
An energy-filled performance ended with Story Of My Life and Best Song Ever.
One of One Direction’s youngest fans, Holly Fraser, aged five, said: “I just screamed when they came on.
“I can’t believe I saw Harry Styles in the rain, but I loved it. Harry and Niall were my favourites."