The 1975, The o2 Arena, London
It’s a cold Friday evening in mid-January, but this has not stopped the eager swarm of angsty teenagers from surrounding the doors to The o2 Arena, London. Penguin-like groups of friends huddle together in hope of some form of heat, whilst others scan the slow-moving mass for their friends who didn’t have the time to spend the majority of the school day camping out in the venue’s car park.
On closer inspection, all of these adolescents are sporting the same outfit - beaten up Dr Martens, paired with distressed t-shirts showcasing slogans previously scribbled down in Matty Healy’s notebook. Despite them having already bought merch representing their favourite indie boys, these more completist followers line-up for more, without realising that they are missing Dirty Hit new-comer, No Rome.
By the time second support act, Pale Waves, take the stage, the interior of the 20,000 seating capacity of the arena is heaving with the sulking, ecstatic teenagers, hoping to catch a glimpse of the most important band to them. The crowd edge closer and closer to the barricade, singing along with the support, boasting the talent that indie label Dirty Hit has to offer.
By 9pm, The Man Who Married a Robot/Love Theme distantly plays above the muffled mumbling of the room. The stage is illuminated an artificial white and from the ceiling, a glowing rectangle ascends - the show is about to begin. In this moment, I fully understand the cringey 2014 Tumblr quote, ‘when the rectangle glows, you know you’re home’. Guitarist Adam Hann graces the stage first, followed by drummer and producer, George Daniel and bassist Ross McDonald. Closely behind strides Healy, wearing a full black suit and trousers that appear slightly too short for him, and a wave of screams floods the room, as the teenagers from outside cry, shake and video every minute that passes.
The narcissistic energy of Healy is evident within the opening moments, as he screams “London, get f*cking moving!”, and the distorted guitars of the band’s leading single, Give Yourself A Try, from their third LP, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, squeal from Hann’s guitar. The crowd jumps and Healy stretches out his arms, as if he is some godly figure.
Twenty minutes in, and the room is pitch black again. Matty’s name flashes in a kaleidoscope of different fonts, across every screen, before he re-enters. Wearing a rabbit hat! The opening bars of Sincerity Is Scary play, as Healy accompanies the treadmill, mimicking the music video.
The production of the show is truly breath-taking, showcasing just why the band have bagged so many awards for it. Between the songs Loving Someone and The Ballad Of Me And My Brain, Healy is raised on a platform and appears to get inside the screen; as he paces, whilst singing about losing his mind.
The thrilling setlist continues, fans cheer and scream, further fuelling Healy’s ego, before No Rome comes back out to perform Narcissist with Matty, to the delight of those who initially missed his set.
The energetic atmosphere relaxes as the band play instrumental track, An Encounter, and Healy addresses the audience: “this is your song, this will always be your song, and we f*cking love you”, before the guitar riff from Robbers interrupts him, and the arena cries. By the end of the song, the collective singing of ‘you look so cool’ gives a real sense of community, showing just how dedicated their followers are.
Towards the end of the evening, once the crowd’s tears have dried, the band re-enter the stage following a brief encore, performing powerful political anthem, Love It If We Made It. Direct quotes from political figures flash up on the screens, as the woke teens chant along, ironically watching Healy through the screens of their iPhones, whilst screaming ‘modernity has failed us.’ As the opening synth notes play, Tim Healy, Matthew’s father, stands up from the crowd and shouts ‘that’s my boy!’ accompanied by ‘aww’s from the crowd, and the sense of community is back again.
The band close on arguably their biggest hits: The Sound and Sex. On Hann’s guitar solos, Healy encourages fans to jump, and the view is thwarted. Sex closes out, and the show ends on a flashing screen stating ‘rock and roll is dead, God bless The 1975’.
It’s clear from here that The 1975 are not just for angsty teenage girls skipping school to catch a glimpse of Healy - they’re a movement and one of the most exciting acts of our generation.