The 1975 left 2018 on a high. The success of their most recent album ‘A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships’ saw them hail the praise and recognition which propelled them to a new height. The first phase of the era ‘Music For Cars’ which consists of three albums, has brought with it an extensive world tour which in itself debuts the bands’ elevation.
I have seen the band more times than I can count. From small venues at the beginning of their career, to festivals. This was my second time seeing the band at the Manchester Arena. The last time I saw the band was on their ‘I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It’ tour. That was a huge home gig for the band, but to use Matty’s own words last Thursday: “We’ve played here before, but there’s something different this time.”
One of the first things I noticed was the fact the venue was a sell out. Every section of the arena open and occupied. Considering front-man Matthew Healy’s personal struggles with addiction over the past year, the bands continued growth and momentum is extremely impressive. The crowd was a rich tapestry of young and old, and I couldn’t help but feel like ‘the dads’ were out in full force as a result of the current albums critical acclaim. I’ve always found The 1975 gigs have a strong homely atmosphere, and regardless of the size of the venue, this time was no different.
As the arena plunged into darkness, the ABIIOR intro ‘The 1975’, rumbled the arena. Walking onto their hometown stage, although as cool and composed as always, you could sense that they were in awe. Kitted out in a blue boiler suit and red converse, Matty burst into their first single from the new album ‘Give Yourself A Try’. Matty’s delivery set the tone for the night to come; high energy, an electric atmosphere and lots of love.
Visually, the stage with its lighting and effects was a masterpiece. Centred around the bands iconic neon rectangle, the stage also had a treadmill at the very front. For ‘Sincerity Is Scary’, the music video was recreated, with a smooth costume addition of the hat from the video. Walking along the treadmill, Matty could see both sides of his crowd close up, whilst also recreating the video by walking in-front of the moving backdrop from the video.
During ‘The Ballad of Me and My Brian’, there was a stunningly theatrical moment in which the screen actually turned in on itself with Matty’s push to create an alcove upon which Matty stood and performed. Additionally, for the first time ever the band had dancers. The two female dancers came to the stage periodically throughout the night, most noticeably in ‘Its Not Living (If Its Not With You)’ where they had a routine with Matty. The shows composition itself just goes to show how (whether you like it or not) The 1975 are now one of the biggest bands in the world. They now have seemingly mastered the ability to pull off a slick and seamless arena performance which entices all the senses.
The set list was one which was incredibly balanced, whilst also undoubtedly being the ‘Music For Cars’ tour. Some of the bands most vulnerable moments involved tracks from their debut. ‘Fallingforyou’, ‘Robbers’ and ‘Medicine’ were some of the most intimate performances, with Matty shouting before ‘Robbers’s famous intro: “This one will always be yours Manchester”. Despite the sheer scale of the gig, the ability to create an intimacy which was just like the one I’d witnessed 4 years earlier at the modest O2 Apollo, was incredible.
They seemingly had command of the room from the moment they entered the stage. If Matty wanted you to be quiet, you were quiet. If Matty wanted you to sing, you sang. One of the most gorgeous moments was during ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ which could have been carried entirely by the crowd if they’d wanted. The sheer presence the band have is incredible, and is what I believe allows them to command such a large space with the finesse that they do. The intimate, delicate moments were contrasted with huge, stadium-like numbers with tracks such as ‘Somebody Else’, ‘ The Sound’ and ‘Love It If We Made It’. They had us in the palm of their hands from the moment they entered the stage, and did not let go.
This is the sort of review where I could go on for days, but I’m keen to keep it sweet. As someone who thrives over live music, this was the perfect gig to kick-start the calendar of live music. Like I said earlier, whether you like them or not, The 1975 are one of the biggest bands of their generation in the world at the moment. They are clever and very good at what they are doing. Any biases aside, they produced a show with a social conscience, which was a visual masterpiece from start to finish. I was overwhelmed by this new found ability they had to work an arena with complete ease, yet still noticeably humble. I think its also worthwhile to note the undeniable chemistry the band have collectively.
Yes, Matty Healy is a great frontman, but he’s not The 1975. I personally think what the band have is very special, and that was showcased on this tour. When comparing this show to the numerous times I’ve seen the band earlier on in their career, their growth is something incredibly impressive, and also pretty beautiful.