Review: The 1975 at Newcastle Metro Radio Arena

The 1975 are one of my favourite bands and also arguably one of the hottest bands in the world right now. Their latest (self-proclaimed “ludicrously titled”) album ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’ topped the charts in both the UK and the US on its release in 2016 and won ‘Best Album’ at the Q Awards. So when my friend Charlotte and I set off to Newcastle Metro Radio Arena, I was extremely excited, and warned Charlotte in advance of the fangirling that would inevitably ensue. We took our seats in the second row close to the stage and waited excitedly for the concert to begin. The 1975 are difficult to box into a certain genre, and I was interested to see the extent to which the variety of styles present in their sophomore album would be showcased in their set.

He is showy, sexy and charismatic – a born frontman.

Suddenly, the atmospheric opening track to their 2016 album boomed out across the stadium and three pink rectangles lit up above the stage. This immediately created a fantastic sense of excitement and tension and gave me goose bumps. Thousands of girls screamed in anticipation. The band then came onstage to ‘Love me’, a satirical comment on the music industry and modern celebrity culture. Charlotte and I were already standing up and dancing in our row, being past the age when fear of embarrassment would have stopped us fully enjoying the concert. Matt Healy also pranced about manically onstage in a Newcastle United shirt, singing with his face close  to one of the cameras (that projected footage onto the big screens either side of the stage), glass of wine in hand. He is showy, sexy and charismatic – a born frontman. Yet, Healy is at the same time humble and irresistibly likable. Often, it can seem that The 1975 is just Matt Healy and that the rest of the band are overlooked, simply accompanying musicians. However, watching The 1975 live, you did feel as if you were watching a band, it wasn’t just ‘the Matt Healy show’.

The set comprised of a mix of new and old songs (some of which I didn’t know and felt like a terrible fan). Disappointingly, the band did not play either of the emotive, acoustic songs from their newest album (‘Nana’ and ‘She lays down’), which would have brought an even greater variety of atmosphere and further showcased the band’s genre-defying talents. A couple of instrumental tracks were included, accompanied by psychedelic lighting that went on for too long and brought the energy levels down, some of the crowd looked bored at this point. Charlotte commented that these songs would have been enjoyable “if you were high”, ha! Many of the tracks from their latest album really come into their own when performed live; songs such as ‘Loving someone’ can sound a bit harsh on the ears when listened to through headphones, yet sound phenomenal live. Fantastic lighting design accompanied and enhanced the band’s performance. Intense, flashing white lights emphasised statements such as “I had a revelation” during the spiritually-searching song ‘If I believe’, and ocean waves and city-scapes, among other things, were projected onto the back wall and the four vertical cuboids onstage.

The song ‘Sex’ from their first album, a fan favourite, was the climax of the show, complete with strobe lighting and an impressive drum solo. However, the real highlight of the concert was when Healy addressed the crowd with a heartfelt speech. The singer spoke of how 2016 has been a troubling year (Trump, Brexit etc.) and how the “young, liberal, compassionate” people in the crowd, whether they be “Muslim, black, gay” were responsible for standing up to regressive ideals and changing the world. The colours of the (LGBT+) Pride flag then lit up the stage and the band proceeded to play ‘Loving someone’. There was a feeling of hope, as phone torches created a sea of stars in the crowd. It was a special moment.
My friend and I left the arena on a high, after what was a fantastic show – atmospheric, varied, and genuine. The band clearly puts complete heart and soul into their music and perform it proudly, unashamed to be producing ‘pop’ music (which is sometimes the victim of scorn). The standout feature of The 1975’s concert, however, was that it was more than just a show; it was a political statement and a show of solidarity, and I left feeling hopeful and inspired.

 

 

Leave a Reply