Live Music Review Of The 1975 At Manchester Arena

by Beth Shipley

31th January, 2019

From start to finish it’s a jungle of sweaty bodies, swaying arms and roaring fans: The 1975 proudly boast an impressive 23 song setlist and ignite Manchester Arena. Flooded with dusty blue and pink lights, Manchester Arena is transformed into a smoky bar; the sexy lighting stretching to fill the whole arena. Immediately, you know it’s The 1975’s familiar aesthetic and that band you first heard in high school are back and more powerful. This tour is miles away from the days of ‘Chocolate’ but also in exactly the same place because with every album you still remember their roots and any song they pull out of their catalogue of bangers takes you home.

A childish Matty Healy is clowning around on stage in a blue boiler suit: a jangly, wobbly mess dancing to the jangly, wobbly sounds of ‘Love Me’. By this point of the band’s career, there isn’t a fan out there who doesn’t know every word to mostly every song so the crowd is roaring from start to finish; from the first note to the last. Healy is cheeky, playing along to the lyrics with his expressions and dancing which fits his unusual stage presence where he resembles a naughty little boy messing around. Of course, the set is peppered with new songs from 2018’s album, ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’, and although most songs are laced with political opinions and Healy’s reaction to the chaos in the world, they are delivered in the most characteristically – The 1975 way. There is a certain naivety as the crowd screams along to boppy anthem ‘Love it If We Made It’, 15-year-old girls shouting about heroin and “a beach of drowning three-year-olds, rest in peace Lil Peep” seems inappropriate but everyone knows each line, each word and it’s already a classic.

Not all songs off the new album were positively received though, ‘I Like America & America Likes Me’, is irritating as Healy overdoes the autotune and it resembles a Drake-esque, kawaii-like, weird mess. Swiftly moving on to an old favourite, the audience erupts at the first note of ‘Somebody Else’, it’s like a magical dream: a symphony of delicate chords and an extended saxophone piece mixed with the iconic dusty pink squares. A slow, romantic trance drawing on Healy’s broken heart from their previous album and arguably, their best album.

With every song, another incredible masterpiece is displayed behind the band: dazzling backdrops mesmerising you, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from The 1975. It’s their trademark, they proudly link themselves to neon pink squares and incredibly creative artwork – it gives life to their performance. From the classic pink squares and smoke to multicoloured blocks to glittering blues and pinks to swishy, trippy scenes to a modern take on The 1975 – an iPhone home screen – they have really excelled themselves. Pure beauty exudes from the stage. The whole atmosphere drops with a colour change – from romantic to emotional in seconds as ‘Fallingforyou’ starts and everything is painted black and white. Tears on everyone’s faces and arms stretched in the air to feel the words; the song cuts deep like we’ve all been in love with the same person. Not a single voice isn’t screaming “I don’t want to be your friend, I want to kiss your neck” and it’s beautiful. An effortless performance and incredibly effective. A nostalgic synth beat begins, followed by a familiar, steady thud and a chorus of “She had a face straight out a magazine” fills the arena. There’s no point in Healy singing Robbers by this point because he is completely drowned out. It’s hard to believe this song came from the deluxe version of their first album as it’s just as powerful as their most recent songs. It has the maturity and complexity of ‘Love It If We Made It’ and is sung back to Healy with just as much passion and energy that the crowd has for new songs. Robbers never loses its excitement, something about it sits deep with fans like it holds a special place in their hearts which is strange really, since the lyrics basically describe the first scene of Pulp Fiction, but that’s the beauty of The 1975 – they write about controversial subjects like guns but transform them into calm, soothing music.

Obviously, the gig ends on the high of ‘The Sound’. It’s an unbeatable dance anthem – electricity is running through the crowd, a sea of dancing arms flowing and jumping. Not a single person isn’t smiling and no one is sat on their seats. It’s a blur of hazy pinks and jumping bodies, but what else would you expect? The energy in the room is as high as when the gig started and it’s perfect. An incredible night from start to finish.

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