The 1975 always manage to create the most electric of atmospheres at a gig, but there’s a certain buzz in the air at the OVO Arena in Manchester that can only go hand in hand with a hometown show.
The warm-up is a mellow one by Bonnie Kempley, but the vibe in the air shifts dramatically when the blue curtain falls after her set and ‘The 1975’ is cast in white light to the crowd.
Anticipation for the home show increases with every song and eventually, there is a period of silence before what bares only an amazing resemblance to the soundtrack of a fireworks display at Disneyland. The screams reach new decibels as the curtain falls to reveal the inside of a house. The band is introduced in the fashion of a sitcom, the newly revamped opening track ‘The 1975’ of the band’s latest release ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ used as the theme tune.
From there it’s a show of two halves. The first half drifts through songs from the latest album, with only a few songs from previous releases, like ‘fallingforyou’ and ‘I Like America and America Likes Me’ dispersed in between. The latter becomes a stripped-down version and there’s something visceral about seeing Matty Healy cast in silhouette on the roof of the house screaming about rebellion in autotune.
Much to the Manchester crowd’s delight, Carly joins the band on stage for ‘About You’ and the pair share a gorgeously tender moment together at the end; Matty’s head resting on her shoulder as she takes in the reaction from the audience. ‘Are you okay?’ she asks him, and he nods, breaking character momentarily as he takes the moment in.
The show takes a 180 turn once the band have left the stage. George comes back on and flicks on the generator which switches the lights to a deep red. Through the door comes Charlie XCX, the crowd hyping to new levels and she struts over every inch of the stage to ‘Vroom Vroom’.
The second half is much of what is expected from a classic 75 show. It kicks off with ‘If You’re Too Shy Let Me Know’ and twists and turns through the most iconic songs from the first four albums.
In true Northern style, gone are the signs asking for kisses, and instead, someone simply holds up the word ‘PISS’. There aren’t flowers getting chucked on stage, it’s a Gregg’s sausage roll. Both make Matty laugh, but there’s instant regret when he takes a bite out of the sausage roll.
The most surprising (and most welcome) diversion from the usual set list is the addition of ‘Menswear’. The voices of the thousands of fans screaming the lyrics overpower the vocals from the stage.
‘Love It If We Made It’ is perhaps the true show stealer. Matty leaves the crowd to lead the chorus and it shakes the arena. He drops to his knees, opens his arms and soaks it all in. ‘You all know how special this is for us to play here’ he had said earlier in the show.
And it is special from start to finish. It’s special to watch an entire arena sidestep with the band to ‘It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You’, to hear ‘Now everybody’s dead’ with thousands of people beside you during ‘Robbers’ and for every single soul from the floor to the ceiling jumping up and down to ‘The Sound’.
The credits roll to a soundtrack of deafening screams. Matty calls it ‘a show about a show’ but it seems to be much more than that. The deep dive into the meta verse brings about the question of do we ever know what’s really real or do we just take what we’re presented with at face value?
There’s one thing that’s for certain. Are The 1975 At Their Very Best? They most certainly are.