Matty Healy could easily be one of the most expressive frontmen in music today. Without even moving all that much (thanks to a built-in conveyor belt on stage), he had the entirety of the 3Arena on their feet earlier this month, for the second night of The 1975’s new tour, ‘A Brief Enquiry into Online Relationships’.
The band are gearing up to release another album this May, just six months after November’s aforementioned release. All this work does not seem to have worn them out, however, as they captured the attention of every person in the arena. Opening with the albums lead single ‘Give Yourself A Try’, we were immediately treated to the show-stealing staging that would become one of the highlights of the night. It was this staging that most people were discussing afterwards both in person and on social media. The onstage treadmill, moving 3D sets and an interesting segment in which biting insults of the band were blasted on a fluorescent pink background, all made for some interesting talking points (plus a few pretty Instagrams).
Healy moved seamlessly through the 24 song set, meshing old fan favourites with newer album tracks, without ever losing the attention of his crowd. The energy only built as the show progressed, and in a few cheeky personal interactions with various fans, every person felt included; as if Healy were addressing them directly. If you hadn’t understood the hype before, you did now. Having recently completed a rehab stint in Barbados for a heroin addiction, Healy looks healthier than he has in years, no longer slugging from a bottle of wine and smoking cigarettes throughout his sets, now he is wearing floppy hats and attempting to do ‘the floss’ with the bands backing dancers.
Support acts No Rome and former OTwo interviewees Pale Waves warmed the crowd up, the latter certainly doing a better job. No Rome was also welcomed onstage during the main set, managing to improve on his earlier, muffled performance. Heather Baron-Gracie of Pale Waves looked like any other ‘75 fan, and it was this that helped the group appeal to the fanbase at the gig, many of whom were more than familiar with the groups biggest hits ‘Eighteen’ and ‘Noises’. Many fans were left completely puzzled, however, by No Rome, who was barely audible in his frequent addresses to the crowd, but this can be put down to his newcomer status. The musicality of his set, however, was impeccable and sounded much like the direction The 1975 are now taking. If they began their career sounding like Pale Waves, they are progressing to the sound of No Rome, which gave fans a satisfying taster of what was to come in the show.
While Healy is certainly flamboyant and quirky, he is not much of a conversationalist. He kept the chat in between songs brief, which allowed for the packed set filled with every fan favourite. Not many ballads or slow songs featured throughout the night, instead fans were kept jumping and dancing as the band raced through tracks ‘The Sound’, ‘UGH!’ and ‘Girls’. Their light-hearted sound contrasted with the overarching theme of the night – that we are all slaves to modern technology, emphasised by Healy stepping into the enormous set, and being on the screen of an iPhone.
‘Love It if We Made It’ was a particular highlight, in which the confusing mix of happy dancing and subtle melancholy married perfectly. While fans sang along and chanted the lyrics back to Healy, the screens around the arena were lambasted with images of protest, unrest, war and the political problems facing our world at present. Everyone there was aware of this message, but the poppy soundtrack kept everyone moving. It was all slightly disconcerting, but ultimately beautiful;, a metaphor for our ever-changing, unruly society.
Closing with ‘Chocolate’, Healy asserted that the band would be back soon, due to their fast-approaching new album Notes on a Conditional Form. With many outlets lauding them as the saviours of rock and roll, the band takes one last jab at the press, declaring on screen ‘Rock and roll is dead’. The show ends with the word ‘Goodbye’ appearing on screen in the iPhone font, one last nod to the band’s complicated relationship with the ever increasing reliance on technology.