It isn’t uncommon for bands to go through phases as it quite often shows where the artists’ headspace is at and can help fans try and decipher their art. In few instances is this truer than for British heartthrobs The 1975. Entering the scene as an angsty monochrome pop outfit, then to a bedazzled 80’s daydream, to a now mature Rock N Roll powerhouse, The 1975 have proven themselves to be true musical chameleons.
It has been few years since they’ve graced our shores and over three years since they’ve played in Adelaide, but on a cool Wednesday evening The 1975 looked to make up for lost time. The touring hiatus was due to the band taking a step back from it all to record their third full-length release, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, which has received substantial critical acclaim. This approach is something they had never really tried as for so long they never seemed to stop moving. This break also seemed to come at a good time for lead singer Matty Healy, who also undertook a rehabilitation program to overcome an opiate addiction. However, with a new record and as new men, the boys are back on tour and looking and sounding better than ever.
The night was opened with indie label Dirty Hit’s golden boy; No Rome. London-based, No Rome has really been championed by The 1975 as he has been the main support for the greater portion of their world tour, as well as receiving writing and production assistance for his recent releases. Crowds were warmed up with autotuned crooning over an electro-pop soundscape with die-hard fans trying out their vocals on Rome’s lyrics. No Rome is definitely one to be on the lookout for, and I’m personally excited to see what’s next to come.
After a short intermission, sound tracked by an interlude from the band, the lights finally went down. Exploding aurally and visually, The 1975, the opening track of their most recent album, lit the fuse to the firecracker of a set it was sure to be. Holding the final note of the intro, the lights began to strobe, building anticipation as the band’s four members entered the stage. Healy waving to the crowd sent the sold-out crowd into a frenzy, only to be topped as they laid into their most recent single; People. It’s an abrasive way to open a show but felt raw and authentically “1975-esque.” Amongst enraged powerful lyrics and incredible visuals behind them, The 1975 immediately proved they’re not the same band that Adelaide saw only a few years ago. With energy at already peaking, they kept it there with upbeat belters; Give Yourself a Try, TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME, and She’s American.
From there, The 1975 took audience members on a journey through their discography trying to their hardest to play to everyone’s tastes. Healy even commented on the difficulties of picking a setlist when you have such a significant catalogue. “We’re picking the setlist, not you,” silencing requests. Although the structure is usually similar, they still manage to keep it fresh with certain slots rotated throughout the tour. Mood seems to influence this; “Adam’s feeling very emo tonight,” says Matty referring to guitarist Adam Hann.
The first half of the show was dominated by new material that fans sung word for word. My personal favourites of this portion of the set was the jazzy Sincerity Is Scary and the Talking Heads inspired It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You). Although their subject matter of the newer tunes can be quite heavy, their infectious melodies and rhythms had everyone moving. The audience was given a break with the gorgeous I Couldn’t Be More in Love, giving Healy the chance to really open his vocals on the soaring choruses and unleash a guitar solo as well.
The 1975 treated audiences to as many fan-favourites as they could fit in. No Rome coming back to the stage to perform their collaboration Narcissist, that had the crowd swaying from front to back. I Like America & America Likes Me, was “controlled” chaos as Healy screamed lyrics at fans, to which they returned the volume tenfold. Arguably the most vocal songs of the night were tear-jerking Robbers, fallingforyou & Somebody Else. As cameras panned across the theatre, audience members with tears in their eyes were shown on the screen, a visual representation of how much The 1975’s songs mean to people. The group also teased a new sound with Depth, possibly off the new record expected in February. The main set was drawn to a close with the heartbreaking anthem; I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes). The early-2000’s rock hymn unified the crowd empowering the 3000-strong choir once again.
All band members left the stage, all except for Matty who said that “this was the most important part of the show.” What preceded was the introductory track from the band’s upcoming release Notes On a Conditional Form. Another beautiful symphonic interlude, however, this time overshadowed by a spoken word monologue from 16-year-old environmental crusader Greta Thunberg. The crowd listened carefully to her cries for political reform as well as cheering appropriately as if to verbally nod their heads to what she was saying.
After conversing with the crowd, the band reappeared to launch the politically charged; Love It If We Made It. This was followed by the one the started it all; an undeniable favourite Chocolate. The audience was then treated to a solo acoustic love letter; Be My Mistake. It was eerily silent in places but was complimented perfectly with another duet by Matty and Adelaide fans. The remainder encore was full of energy as the band looked to go out with a bang saving some of their highest energy bangers for last. Sex invited the crowd to unleash as the shoegazing hit opened the closest thing to a mosh pit of the entire show. The full stop to evening was the irrefutably catchy The Sound, that shook the room as 3000 fanatics jumped in unison.
The 1975’s most recent phase has been something new for the diehards to digest. It’s been a different sound with different themes for fans to get used but they have welcomed it with open arms. What felt different with the new record was the maturity in the production and song writing and that really shone through in a live context. Everything felt extremely rehearsed and purposeful. It was visually intensive when you wanted it to be but also provided a tasteful backdrop when it needed to be. They look and sound the best they ever have; special props can be given to Healy as he has transformed into a polarising front man. Be it rehearsed dance routines or his much-improved vocals, Matty has proved there’s few things he can’t do, rocking a granny-skirt being one of them.
The wait looks to be much less this time as fans can catch the boys headlining St. Jerome’s Laneway festival early next year, and possibly something else later in the year, “but we’re not allowed to talk about that,” says Matty.
Live Review By David Kerr