It took a few minutes for the crowd to notice the pulsating white noise as it rose in volume, leading into The 1975‘s opening song and first track form the band’s second album, Love Me.
The Mancunian rock quartet are extremely talented live, sounding almost indistinguishable from their recorded music. The aesthetic of the gig was stunning, with two 20 ft screen on either side lighting up with Polaroid-esque silhouettes of the band, or gorgeous visuals including sunsets, water, and night-time cityscapes.
Focusing more on there second album, I Like it when you Sleep, which is decidedly more laid back than their self titled first, the set list was filled with long, meandering instrumentals and one interlude which went on for at least five minutes. Although this would have been wonderfully atmospheric combined with the visual aspect of the night in an intimate setting, the intention was lost in translation on such a large crowd.
The audience reacted much more positively to the band’s rockier songs, especially their encore of The Sound and Chocolate, but fan faves like She’s American and Girls were solid hits. Maybe it was just my bad luck to be standing next to a group of incredibly drunk students, but the rabble that turned up to the BIC seemed to grow impatient and frustrated by the mellowness of the set.
“This isn’t a pantomime, this is real life! It’s our duty not to let it become a pantomime,” Healy replied impatiently as the crowed booed both Trump and Brexit.
It’s an important point, not buying into the increasing hyperbole and celebritization when discussing our current political system, but how else are an audience supposed to interact with someone standing on a stage?
All of Healy’s arguments are important, but standing in front of 4,000 or so people isn’t really the place to expect a nuanced debate about the terrifying trend of rising global populism. The front man also seemed frustrated by a group of young people waving at him from the front, telling him “this isn’t TV, I can see you!”. As true as that might be, what does Healy suggest instead? Just to stand and stare up at him? Now that does seem to be a reaction more fitted to TV.
But I understand his frustration. It’s incredibly positive for someone with such influence in pop culture to address politics in front of young people, just as it’s incredibly positive for such a popular band to dedicated a song to the LGBT community (The wonderful Loving Someone). It is undoubtedly exasperating to feel like you have something important to say on a platform you have built, and for it to be received by a hoard of people calling for you to return to singing about drugs and girls.
Overall, it was a set that didn’t seem to know what it was, where instead of giving the audience the hits they know and love, the 1975 decided what they should actually want to want.
Regardless, the music was strong, the band’s stage presence was immaculate and the overall set, positive. Maybe it was the band, maybe it was the crowd, but neither seemed to quite understand the other and that lead to some discomfort, and for me, the feeling that The 1975 missed the mark this time.
But, to echo Matt Healy’s sentiment, what do I know?