The 1975 have always been an aesthetically-conscious group. From the black and white style of The 1975 to the social media stunts and recolour release of I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, they know how to perform and stylise themselves for their target audience – there is no greater demonstration of this than their live shows.
As soon blue boiler suit-cladded Matty Healy swaggered onto the Glasgow SSE Hydro arena stage with the rest of the band, the crowd was enraptured. With the use of a travelator, Healy darted from one end of the stage to the other. One moment looking as though he was strolling through The Village in New York and the next dancing his way across the crowd. Overall, the stage design was phenomenal. The use of screens, secret mini-stages at the back and descending light-boxes added a higher level of both entertainment and performance. There were two dancers, the Jaiy twins, who moved in the effortless style that we all wished we could do while dancing around our room.
Although Healy did little talking in between songs (he explained that he didn’t want to talk this time around, just play the music), it is clear that he is the lead, consistently holding the focus of the stage. Towards the end of the show, the band hush and leave Healy on stage. He asks the crowd to take 30 seconds to talk amongst themselves while he oh-so-casually strums his guitar. He asks who has the new album before launching into arguably one of the most emotional 1975 songs from the new album – ‘Be My Mistake.’ Gimmicky? A little. But the young, scrunchie-clad crowd eats it up.
At times, the band’s rebranding becomes very clear. Jumping from a more indie The 1975 song to the newer, more pop-ish A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships songs was a little jarring at times, though not unpleasant. This contrast was also reflected in the stage visuals, moving from a stream of images from current political and social horrors as the backdrop for one song, then move into fuzzier pop vibes. This is not without self-awareness, however. During ‘The Sound’, they flash up criticisms of their own music, calling themselves sell-outs, fakes, gimmicks etc., and smoothly laugh at themselves.
They are a band built on a whole package, not just music and they fully realise this. Overall, The 1975 put on an incredible show. They do entertainment excellently and present a performance for the Instagram generation. It isn’t for the music purists, but that isn’t who it is designed for. They know their audience and they play to them well.
Image: Markus Hillgärtner via Wikimedia Commons