If you haven’t heard of The 1975, crawl right on out from under that rock you’ve been living under, find yourself any form of device that plays music and give your ears a musical education. The 1975 are a band no one has been able to escape from ever since they graciously crashed onto the alt rock scene in 2012. Almost four years on, the four have settled more than comfortably as the orbital centre of their genre.
Their new album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, hones in on the organised mess of their self-titled debut, yet with a new maturity; each song is refined to give an exhilarating, chaotic cohesion. After debuting at number one on both sides of the pond, the band have embarked on their largest world tour to date. Attending one of the four Manchester dates, the band’s hometown, felt like being invited to the biggest party of the year.
The new-wave lead single from their sophomore effort, ‘Love Me’, opens the show, captivating the crowd with its intentionally-conceited confidence. Following it arrives ‘UGH!’, frontman Matt Healy’s ostentatious nod to cocaine addiction, digested by the audience with delight as “I’m not giving it up again!” echoes around the arena.
Aside from some verging on incoherent mumbling from Healy through a glass of red wine, the band stay focused on the set. The flamboyant frontman gyrates around a stage of neon pinks and charcoal greys, as the band effortlessly fight their way through an astounding twenty-one songs. The setlist is a seamless journey through their newest tracks with sporadic classics from their debut, such as ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Menswear’.
The central segment of the show becomes a surprisingly intimate affair. ‘Somebody Else’, a favourite from the new album, is met with waving-lighters and smartphone torches. Moving back up the pace, in every sense of the word, the crashing rapturous finale of the effervescent ‘Girls’ adds an instant lift for the ever faithful crowd; not one of whom are fooled by the subsequent exit of the band, erupting chants of ‘we want Sex, we want Sex’.
‘If I Believe You’ brings everything back down to earth, starting the four song encore as the soothing muffled trumpet and live choir add a new air of sophistication. The announcement of ‘The Sound’, the band’s most commercially successful single to date, sends the crowd into pandemonium. Moments like this make it clear that the self-professed “sycophantic, socratic, pathetic junkie wannabe” in Healy has his fandom at his fingertips. They hang on every word he says.
The rush of adrenaline for ‘Sex’ surges through every last person in the room, the pinnacle being Healy drinking in the energy centre stage, perfectly wailing each lyric in harmony with their meaning. The mesmerizing strobe light show mirrors the swell of energy. A perfectly chaotic ending to the most perfectly, paradoxically chaotic and consistent gig, as every member of the crowd leaves with the same rush of adrenaline as the show started with.
Photo by Ellie Cawte.By Liam Smith and Ellie Cawte