On the 9th March 2016, The 1975 played the final of 5 sold out shows at the O2 Academy Brixton. They were supported by label mates The Japanese House, who were one of my “ones to watch in 2016”.
I’ve been lucky enough to see The 1975 a few times now. The first time at Reading Festival 2014 on a Sunday night (the last proper thing I saw that weekend) in support of their debut album, “The 1975”, the second last November during the transition between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ era and then again couple of weeks ago at the BBC Radio One Presents event, which was the first time they’d played since the release of the new album. Each time they’ve been totally captivating and utterly brilliant, all for different reasons- and this time was no exception.
This tour is long, global, the venues are getting bigger- I write this review a couple of days since The 1975 have played their first headline arena show- and the fans are out in full force (some of them out day on day). They’ve already played five sold-out nights at the O2 Academy in Brixton, four nights at the O2 Apollo in Manchester, three nights at the O2 Academy Glasgow annnd, of course, Barclaycard Arena, in Birmingham (among other dates). This is followed by a worldwide tour and a string of festival dates- including Wireless Festival. They have the potential to sell out arenas, but what I find interesting is that they still choose to play, arguably a residency, at smaller venues over numerous nights. I think this is how they keep their intimacy with the fans. The secret to their success.
I saw them play the fifth and final night of their five night, sold out Brixton run. There seemed to be a gradual 15 minute introduction with the lights steadily dimming into a blackout and the music fading out. Was this necessary? Probably not. But it works. It does nothing but aid their mysterious and captivating stage presence and leaves the crowd craving the band’s arrival (the amount of screens that kept popping up in anticipation for their entrance, in order to capture the moment they burst onto stage, was copious to say the least).
Finally, they opened with “Love Me”. Time upon time I talk of my love for this song- they could’ve played it over and over and I’d have probably been contented. It’s an undeniable crowd pleaser which never fails to get the crowd fully warmed up and, in this case, introduced to their new set. This was followed by the glorious “Ugh!”, which always sounds so fun live. It’s exciting and fresh, whilst short and sweet.
In all honesty, I could’ve listened to them play the whole of their latest album in full for 75 minutes. They showcased a selection of tracks from the formidable and beautiful new album, “I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It”, such as “Change of Heart”, “She’s American” (both of which they played on tour last November) and “The Ballad of Me and My Brain”. In my eyes, any band who can get the audience singing along to new songs a matter of weeks after release are pretty special. They also played “Loving Someone”, but without the spoken word part which I love so dearly, and “Paris”, among others. These new songs are special live. There’s definitely a connection, exemplified in these venues, between Healy (lead singer) and the audience. These songs feel crafted for audiences and venues like these- they’re made to be sung, enjoyed and experienced live.
Between sips of wine and a short lived shirt change by Healy, they also played a handful of songs from their debut album ,”The 1975″. Songs like “Heart Out” and “Menswear” seamlessly knitted the old and new together and intertwined the different elements of the setlist to create something enjoyable for everyone. “Robbers” is always fascinating live. The audience always seem to connect with it in a way which is indescribable and somewhat melancholic (or so it would seem when hundreds are screaming “now everybody’s dead” simultaneously). It’s these little idiosyncrasies which help exemplify their connection with fans and the music. This is something seen also in “Girls”, which never fails to make the audience dance. It sounds almost better live than on the recorded version, or perhaps it’s just the audience reaction that makes it.
It seems that The 1975 wouldn’t forget some of the old fan favourites from the EPs. As a long standing fan I enjoy these songs and would miss them if they were not on the setlists. However, I don’t feel the setlist necessarily needed these songs to withstand the ever evolving audience. Songs like “So Far (It’s Alright)”, “Fallingforyou” and “You” (which the audience particularly love) are treasured on the setlist by many and the fact they’re left in describes the close relationship the band have with their fans. “Anobrain” has been played live on this tour for the first time and it’s beautiful simplicity is set apart from the newer, more brash material.
They played a four song encore consisting of “If I Believe You”, “Chocolate”, “The Sound” and “Sex”. As I said a few weeks ago, “If I Believe You” is stunning live with its choir and powerful instrumentals. Songs like “Chocolate” and “Sex” are residents of the setlist and remain in these positions every tour. The audience love them though. “The Sound” is another fun one live. It’s incredibly catchy and everyone jumps and dances accordingly. It’s brilliant.
Overall, The 1975 have pulled off another faultless performance full of mesmerising set design, incredible showmanship and brilliant tunes of both new and old eras. I’m excited to see them play festivals this summer, as well as anticipating further UK tour dates- possibly in even bigger venues (arenas even, something like Wembley Arena or The O2 would be perfect for them, if they can retain the level of intimacy they did in Brixton and at The Brighton Centre, last year).