Zayn Malik Performs 'Unforgettable' Solo Show — His First Concert Since Leaving One Direction

At the London gig, Malik — who exited the boyband in 2015 — thanked his fans for waiting, admitting that he knows it "took a while"

<p>Jed Cullen/Dave Benett/Getty</p> Zayn Malik performs on May 17, 2024, in London

Jed Cullen/Dave Benett/Getty

Zayn Malik performs on May 17, 2024, in London

Zayn Malik’s latest gig was a milestone performance in more ways than one.

The sold-out concert, held on Friday, May 17, at London’s Shepherd's Bush Empire, was not only the singer’s first-ever headlining solo gig, but also his first concert since he left One Direction in 2015.

Malik, 31, took the stage at the West London venue to perform songs from his latest album, Room Under the Stairs, for the first time for fans in a night he dubbed “unforgettable” in an Instagram post.

Related: One Direction: Where Are They Now?

In fan-captured footage of the milestone show, Malik also told the electric crowd, “I missed this.” And, in a snippet he shared himself, he also thanked his fans for “all of the love and support over the years,” and for waiting — admitting that he knows it “took a while.”

“This is an exciting night,” he said at the concert. “I’m very grateful to you all, and I hope you have a great night."

Since going solo more than nine years ago, Malik has released several solo projects and topped the charts with hits including “PILLOWTALK” and “Dusk Till Dawn,” but has steered clear of the stage.

Though rare, the musician has done occasional live performances (including a set at Wango Tango in May 2016, a performance on The Voice days later and a recently shared rendition of a new track, “What I Am”) but no headlining concerts — until now.

Related: Zayn Malik Says He 'Took Things Too Seriously' in One Direction: I Didn't 'Enjoy the Band Enough'

After he first went solo in 2015 — leaving One Direction in the hands of bandmates Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson — the musician scheduled several live performances (including a charity concert appearance in Dubai and, memorably, a set at Summertime Ball 2016) but pulled out of the events, citing social anxiety.

In an official statement announcing his withdrawal from Summertime Ball, Malik said, “Unfortunately, anxiety, which has haunted me throughout the last few months around live performances has got the better of me,” adding that “with the magnitude of the event, I have suffered the worst anxiety of my career.”

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“I cannot apologize enough, but I want to be honest with everyone who has patiently waited to see me. I promise I will do my best to make this up to everybody I’ve let down today,” he continued. “I know those who suffer from anxiety will understand, and I hope those who don’t can empathize with my situation.”

<p>Jo Hale/Redferns via Getty</p> Zayn Malik performing with One Direction in 2012

Jo Hale/Redferns via Getty

Zayn Malik performing with One Direction in 2012

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Reflecting on the situation in his book Zayn, Malik said he “couldn’t function.” “I found it really frustrating that, even now that I was being upfront about what the issue was, some people still found reasons to doubt it,” he said of his struggles with anxiety. “But that’s the industry.”

Also in the 2016 biography, Malik recalled his anxiety being more manageable during his boyband days, writing, “When I was in One Direction, my anxiety issues were huge but, within the safety net of the band, they were at least manageable.”

“As a solo performer, I felt much more exposed, and the psychological stress of performing had just gotten to be too much for me to handle — at that moment, at least,” he added.

Related: Zayn Malik Says He Was Kicked Off of Tinder for 'Catfishing': 'It's Not Been Too Successful for Me'

More recently, Malik discussed his relationship with live performances on the podcast Call Her Daddy, revealing that he was “still nervous” to go back onstage. “I feel like I have something to give and I want to get onstage and be there again and feel that," Malik said in the July 2023 episode. "That’s one thing I can say, my fan base has always been supportive in that manner.”

“They’re always just like, ‘We’re here, we’ve got you. Like, when you’re ready we’ve got you,’ ” he said of his supporters, adding, “I feel that love for sure. I’m ready to prove these people right.”

Malik's Room Under the Stairs arrived on May 17 via Mercury Records.

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