by James Nicholson.
The 1975 have returned to the UK with a tour which they claim is them ‘at their very best’. After seeing them at Bournemouth International Centre on Monday night, I am inclined to agree.
Last year saw the release of their fifth studio album, which quickly became their fifth UK number one album. On the back of their landmark live-streamed show from Maddison Square Garden, which is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video, the band are back in the UK following the recent release of ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’, an album which taps back into their electro-pop style, with clear themes of masculinity, addiction and what it means to find love in the modern world.
The first section of Monday’s show acts as a tour through the bands newest material as Adam Hann (guitar), Ross MacDonald (bass guitar) and George Daniel (drums) accompany Matty Healy (vocals) through what appears to be a view into his own mind or a take on modern society and the struggles of masculinity, as we are presented with imagery depicting Putin, Andrew Tate, and Logan Paul.
The audience at the BIC in Bournemouth greet the band as they all enter the stage separately with title cards displayed on the screen either side of the stage. All whilst Healy takes on the role by pretending to be stumbling around the stage in a drunken state with a lit cigarette never far from his lips, presenting himself as the image of a washed-up rockstar. This band seem to define the word eccentricity as their bombastic 24 song setlist looks to span multitude of eras and styles that have defined them over the previous decade.
Beginning with a string of songs from their latest album, The 1975 showcase that they really do, in the words of Matty Healy “just keep getting better”. To accompany the new songs, the band have worked to design a set more akin to a national theatre production than a typical gig at the BIC. As the curtain drops, we are greeted with the stage presented as a house of multiple rooms, fitted with vintage furniture, an array of 1950s era TVs and bifold windows.
The show continues and a multitude of intriguing, yet strange sections play out, including Healy ‘fumbling’ the lyrics to ‘All I Need to Hear’, followed by a pause of the set, with directors, camera crew and makeup coming out to reset the scene, even topped off with a clapper board for good measure. This stylistic first half of the show comes to a climax (both figuratively and almost literally) with a prolonged section of Healy removing his shirt and touching himself to the sounds of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No.5 in C Sharp before climbing through the stacked-up screens projecting the continued imagery and falling into this constructed world of online content. As I said, eccentricity is the key word here.
The latter half of the show seems to act as a breaking of the fourth wall and a destruction of character as the band slip out of the more serious thematic representations of the first half and dive headfirst into an array of classic hits. Healy remains a presence as he begins to interact more directly with the crowd, aiming his guitar like a rifle and catching oranges thrown by the crowd and proclaiming that it is “not the 1500’s” before going into ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’ and singing ‘don’t like Tories’ in his now viral autotune intro. The crowd truly came to life during this second set of songs that bounced from ‘Sex’ to ‘Somebody Else’ and the always incredible scream of the audience as they proclaim “NOW EVERYBODY’S DEAD” during their self-titled album classic, ‘Robbers’.
This sense of audience interaction even went as far as a decibel metre reading to decide the next song performed by the band as we were forced to choose between ‘A Change of Heart’ and ‘Paris’ both featured on the album ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’ (yes, it’s a mouthful). Eventually we were informed that ‘A Change of Heart’ had won by a 1 decibel margin and the show continued. During the final stretch of songs Healy demanded that everyone in the audience jump regardless of whether you were a lifetime fan or a dad accompanying their daughter to jump to their most popular song ‘The Sound’ and, from what I saw, everyone obliged.
The 1975 continue to redefine what it means to be a pop rock band in 2023 and their live shows never disappoint. After having seen them at The Joiners in 2012, the 02 Academy Bournemouth in 2014, the Southampton Guildhall in 2015, Reading Festival in 2022 and now again at the BIC in 2023, it’s safe to say I will not stop buying tickets to their shows and neither should you. Perhaps that eccentricity is not for you, or the antics of Matty Healy may put you off buying in to the band, but I implore you to take a chance and see the show which continues throughout the rest of the UK throughout January.
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