It’s a Wednesday night in February and the weather is cold and wet, but unsurprisingly, The 1975’s fans are still raucous and ready to go. The atmosphere is filled with the vibrancy of youth as mostly teens and young adults fill the room. These fans are the future, and The 1975 are about to teach them a valuable lesson on how to be unapologetically confident, dance freely and save the world.
Following an effortless performance from opening act Beabadoobee, whose music, style and aura are reminiscent of the early 2000s, the lights start to flicker before the room descends into darkness. The 1975 have arrived. Yellow flashes across the set and Matty, George, Adam and Ross crash into the opening track ‘People’, from their upcoming album ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’. Donning his fresh punk mohawk and khaki trousers, Matty really looks the part as he shows off his skilled screamo technique. From the off, The 1975 have set a riotous, unapologetic tone for the evening, which is further solidified when Matty falls into a, seemingly unintentional, backwards roll.
‘Sex’, which comes next, is the perfect follow up track to ‘People’. Matching the same rock and roll energy, ‘Sex’ transports the crowd back in time to the early days of the band’s success. After three minutes spent in 2012, drummer George brings the song to a close with warm and boisterous beats before the present day resumes with ‘TOOTIMETOOTIME’. The crowd is awash in giddy waves of pop and treated to choreographed dancing from backing dancers, who Matty joins at times.
‘Me & You Together Song’ ignites the room as though it has just played during the ‘guy gets the girl’ moment of an early noughties teen movie. ‘Sincerity is Scary’ continues in a similar light, playful vein and ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’ rounds off this section of danceable bops. The band’s impressive visuals and colossal stage set-up do not disappoint during the track as colourful geometric shapes illuminate the stage. The 1975 write music about some seriously poignant topics, which is evident as Matty sings “Collapse my veins wearing beautiful shoes it’s not living if it’s not with you”, but as fun colours flash and carefree dancers take the stage that can sometimes be easy to forget.
Sax solos, anthemic choruses and catchy riffs are essential to The 1975 songs, and new, unreleased track ‘If You’re Too Shy’ is not short in any of those areas. The crowd lap up ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ with such enthusiasm you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s an old classic. The band respond by matching the crowd’s energy, displaying obvious excitement towards their new music.
Matty has one simple request for the crowd before the next track, to keep loving him. ‘Love Me’ ensues with the accompaniment of a pink set and its iconic synth introduction. Although, the excitable mood does not last long as ‘I Couldn’t Be More in Love’ strips the crowd back with muted visuals, rhythmic drums, a raspy, powerful vocal and a sultry guitar solo performed on a simple black Stratocaster.
‘Guys’ is the next new song and as Matty sings “You guys are the best thing that ever happened to me”, it becomes clear that we are witnessing a touching moment between the four bandmates. A synth slowly plays the song out before ‘Robbers’, ‘Falling For You’, ‘Milk’ and ‘Lostmyhead’ ignite another trip down nostalgia street. ‘Lostmyhead’ proves itself as an unexpected live hit as Adam plays hauntingly distorted guitar riffs and Matty melts into the set’s screens.
Then, the appearance of tizzy visuals signifies ‘Frail State of Mind’ — an undeniably fraught song filled with elastic bright synths and smashing, thick drums that depict exactly how anxiety feels. New track ‘The Birthday Party’ follows with a starkly contrasting vibe. Pastels, surreal visuals, an acoustic guitar and serene vocals are used to soften the heavy lyrics that delve into the difficulties of staying clean.
‘I Like America and America Likes Me’ is the next impassioned offering from The 1975. Lyrically confronting gun culture hits a little harder on the live stage as Matty falls to his knees singing “We’re scared of dying, it’s fine’. The heavy autotune on Healy’s voice pays homage to SoundCloud rap and punctuates his words for added poignancy. The mellow atmosphere continues with ‘Somebody Else’ and ‘I Always Wanna Die Sometimes’ until the latter hits its final chorus. Strobes, excited crowd participation and a faultless falsetto round off the segment.
In true, unfiltered Matty Healy style, the crowd is then told to “Shut up and stop heckling”, something important is about to happen. It would not be a The 1975 show if a politically or socially charged speech was absent. Although, this time, the band leave it up to environmental activist Greta Thunberg to do what she does best. During the pre-recorded speech that urges people to listen and act against global warming Matty stands still with respect — this is obviously the most important message of the night. The speech ends with Greta telling the crowd it is “Time to rebel”. ‘Love it if We Made it’ is the next, appropriately timed, song. Psychedelic graphics, choreographed dances and politically charged lyrics backed up by disco riffs make this the perfect track to begin the show’s climax.
The band’s first single, ‘Chocolate’, begins and proves its timelessness — sounding just as good as it did in 2012. There is not a person in the room who doesn’t seem to know this song and no-one is left sitting down. The crowd jumps and dances to this party starter and George’s powerful drumming gives them their rhythmic motivation. Then comes the show’s finisher, ‘The Sound’. The energy in the room is high and the band are really going for it. Negative review quotes appear across the screens in ironic, candyfloss pink flashes — “Totally lacking in wow factor”, “Pompous arena synth-pop”, and “Do people really still make music like this?”. Yes, they do and judging by the reaction in this room, a delectable serving of pompous, arena synth-pop that’s lacking in wow factor is exactly what music fans called for.