Izzy Morris and Kit Sinclair
For an evening that was part cinematic experience, part gig, Kit and Izzy went down to the Motorpoint Arena to see The 1975: At Their Very Best. It’s not everyday that you get to witness a frontman consume raw meat on-stage, and then crawl through a television in an indie-pop-filled fever dream.
‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’
A great, big, blue curtain dropped to reveal highly elaborate staging designed to look like the inside of a house, complete with tables, a vintage TV, familiarly square windows and a collection of lamps. One by one, the band entered the stage, turning them on as though we were watching the opening credits to a TV programme.
From here, ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’’s opening track, The 1975, set the scene for the night, addressing the themes of the album; the difficulties of living in this day and age, doom scrolling, mental illness glorification, and political uncertainty. Lighting cigarettes and stumbling across stage, taking swigs from a bottle of red wine, Matty Healy took on the persona of the all-too-familiar drunken, burned out, and disenfranchised artist, unfamiliar with his own sense of self outside of touring and writing.
His reality is a constant performance
He referenced this himself as he spoke to the audience, discussing the difficulty of understanding where ‘real-life’ is, when his reality is a constant performance. These themes of performance, or as he refers to them as ‘bits’, continued through a scene in which stage hands in hazmat suits come to re-do a take of the production, with a clapper board at the ready, to launch into the next track. Making frequent reference to the idea of sincerity, tracks like Oh Caroline and I’m in Love With You got the whole crowd moving, celebrating ideas of vulnerability and simplicity in its purest form.
There was nothing but love radiating from the crowd. It’s clear that even 10 years from their debut album, The 1975 still resonate with the teenage experience, and represent a view of the world felt and recognised by their entirely captivated audiences.
Their highly conceptualized method of expression is what makes The 1975 so interesting; their music and their ideas are sensitive, intricate and earnest. Healy was regularly matter-of-fact, and often quite crude, labelling himself as ‘confused and horny’ and asserting that the same was true for the audience. While some of this abstract thinking and imagery might be confusing for a lot of people (eating a slab of raw meat on stage, for example, isn’t something we come to expect from a gig), it does set an interesting precedent for the future.
This tour has made waves online, whether through meme content, or through its production elements and storytelling. Could we see more of these high concept ‘act’ based tours from inspired bands in the future?
‘At Their Very Best’
There were only a few moments of darkness and silence after Healy disappeared head first through a television set – just long enough to start wondering what on Earth might be waiting for us in the second half. Then, in came the band again, just as in the opening, but now dressed in black from head to toe. Last in was, of course, our frontman. Gone was the crumpled shirt and drunken stupor, and here was a swaggering icon of 21st century pop, dressed in a sharp suit and here to give us a show.
And give us a show they did. Rocketing through the band’s all time favourites like nobody’s business, there was barely time to breathe in between each song. Pinballing from more recent hits like TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME to all-time- classics (such as Chocolate) from their first album released a decade ago, this was a confident reminder of why The 1975 has become a genuinely generational sound.
His political commentary, however, went a bit awry
Although Healy was still occasionally swigging from a wine bottle onstage (the debate continues as to whether it was actually filled with alcohol), in the latter half, he was much more present than the dissociated, washed up rockstar persona he affected in the first. He was best when he was discussing the music or sending himself up – a brief mockery of his onstage dance moves elicited delighted laughs from the audience. His political commentary, however, went a bit awry; it’s all very well shouting ‘F*ck the Tories’ into a microphone, but it’s difficult to stomach talk of solidarity in the North when you know his mother is a Loose Women regular. Anyway, as those around me defiantly corrected him, this is the Midlands, not the North.
Healy’s stage presence, however, cannot be denied. He effortlessly worked the crowd, particularly when it came to getting the audience to decide on the next song based on how loudly we shouted for each option (we were rewarded for taking part in this process with cult hit Menswear, a result that seemed to surprise Healy – “Really?”, he asked the technician measuring the decibel level). During The Sound, he got everyone in the stadium – standing or seated – jumping passionately to the beat.
An assured, electric performance
Whether you were a dedicated follower, a casual listener, or even not a huge fan of their music, the atmosphere in the stadium was undeniable. This was an assured, electric performance from a band at the peak of their powers – truly, one might say, ‘at their very best’.
Izzy Morris and Kit Sinclair
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.