Pryzm, Kingston (Banquet Records) - 13/10/22
'Twas the night before ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’, the fifth studio album from indie greats The 1975, and the streets of Kingston are lined with thousands of dedicated fans of the Manchester quartet, eager to see the legends of the alternative scene up close, courtesy of local independent record store, Banquet Records.
The adoring fans outside the venue with a capacity just shy of two thousand have every right to be excited, having already proven themselves to be the most devoted of the band’s fanbase. Initially, tickets to this gig were only available at 9am over the counter of Banquet’s shop, a rule that saw thousands camping out over night to secure their tickets. Due to overwhelming demand, a second, earlier show, was added, with tickets being available on the record store’s website and, as expected, selling out within seconds.
As soon as doors are opened at 6:30pm, there’s a real buzz in the air. Fans rush to get as close to the front as possible, whilst others take to the night club (and former cinema)’s balconies to ensure a great view from higher ground. However, no matter where you stand within this venue, you are guaranteed an incredible view due to its small and intimate nature.
After an hour of long and seemingly never ending anticipation, The 1975 take to the stage to the sheer delight and immense enthusiasm of the crowd. Many in the audience are probably familiar with The 1975’s usual opening of ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ ‘Love Theme’, which increasingly gets louder until the lights go down and The 1975’s eponymous track plays out. However, tonight the band’s entrance has undergone a few changes, such as the bold decision to open with currently unreleased song, ‘Looking For Somebody (To Love).’ Despite nobody yet knowing the words to the tune, the track is met with an exhilarating reception with everyone in the audience bouncing to the catchy, 80s style pop anthem, suggesting that ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’ was soon to be an album filled with infectious bops that The 1975 are so incredible at producing.
It’s not long, though, before the band go into their ‘greatest hits’, with frontman Matty Healy explaining that tonight we were witnessing The 1975 at their very best. The memorable chorus of ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’ is accompanied by fans acting out the song’s lyrics by holding up their fingers and counting (“I only called her one time/Maybe it was two times/Don’t think it was three times/Can’t be more than four times”), whilst critically acclaimed single ‘Chocolate’ is chanted back word for word to the band as the lights pulse and Healy holds his microphone in front of him, letting his lyrics echo throughout the auditorium.
It’s a night of live debuts, too, giving this crowd of the most adoring fans a real treat. Despite being BFIAFL’s lead single, ‘Part Of The Band’, a track that sonically really resembles the kind of music that Mumford & Sons or Coldplay would make, deviating from The 1975’s ‘safer’ sounding songs and proving them to be such a versatile and exciting act, had yet to have been given the live audience treatment. Again, this moment in the set featured everyone in the room singing every single word in unison, and taking great pleasure in singing some of the fan favourite lyrics (“Enough about me now/You gotta talk about the people, baby”, “I like my men like I like my coffee/Full of soy milk/And so sweet it won’t offend anybody”). The song’s gentle instrumental ends with Healy attempting to crowd surf down the centre of the standing area (but not quite making it past the front few rows).
It’s a weird sensation watching The 1975 play a gig of this scale; they’re a band who can sell out two consecutive nights at London’s o2 Arena (among other arena dates) and headline Reading & Leeds Festival in the same month, yet here they are in a club sized venue mimicking the show of a band with their eyes set on making it up to the top table. However, conflictingly, Healy has the showmanship and charisma of a truly experienced icon and the band are so tight knit and talented that the entire show is seamless.
The set feels so special from the get go, maybe because due to the nature of the ticket buying experience and the sheer scale of the gig, the room is overflowing with people all with one thing in common: the passion that they have for the four guys that started a band as teenagers, in a decision that would later soundtrack so many years of our own teenage angst. There’s a real, genuine connection between all of us in front of the stage and those mirroring us from the other side, and it’s a relationship that simply doesn’t exist in the same way at a concert taking place at The o2.
Healy takes time out of the set to chat to the audience about quite literally anything (see chatting about how he hates climate change, but also really hates when water comes in paper based cartons), creating a relaxed and easy atmosphere that makes the show even smaller. Individual members of the crowd are also interacted with in moments during songs where Matty waves and points at the faces opposite, even taking people’s phones to take videos mid-song. One lucky fan, who Matty explains has been at a million shows, was given the power to choose the band’s next song and the room erupts in response to the opening notes of ‘Paris’.
There’s something really beautiful about the shared experiences and the crowds all singing together, never missing a note, really emphasising the impact that the music of The 1975 has had on so many people, whom have all interpreted the same songs in different ways depending on their personal circumstances of the time. It’s this realisation that got me into music and journalism in the first place, making the prospect of a brand new era of The 1975 being unveiled to the world in a mere few hours even more exhilarating.
During ‘Robbers’, the crowd take over on vocals, chanting “stay, stay, stay”, a moment that could be lifted from the character in the song begging the narrator, and instead applied to the general desire for the set to be longer. The set exceeds the estimated times, however, the band keep playing on the promise that we would all leave quickly so that the second release show of the night could begin swiftly. “Be punk and polite”, Healy advises.
As the crowd disperses in a polite, yet still punk manner, reality begins to sink in. What had just occurred was very special. A once in a lifetime set. We really did witness The 1975 at their very best.
Banquet Records is an independent record store situated in Kingston upon Thames, Greater London. They stock a broad range of music on CD, cassette and vinyl formats, as well as hosting incredible intimate instore shows with the best in the industry, as well as outstores in venues such as Pryzm. You can find them at https://www.banquetrecords.com or on social media:
Twitter - @BanquetRecords
Instagram - @banquetrecords
Facebook - @banquetrecords
The 1975 are touring the UK next January in support of their new record, Being Funny In A Foreign Language and you can get tickets here.
Being Funny In A Foreign Language, the fifth studio album from The 1975, is out now via Dirty Hit.