by Bronagh McManus
It was 8.46pm on Saturday 22nd September. The air was damp with sweat which lingered with anticipation as the room held its breath for what awaited it. The lights dropped, the screams erupted and ‘The 1975’ took to the stage. First on was drummer George Daniel who had tied his long hair into a scruffy pony tail and was uniformed in a black vest. Next up was guitarist Adam Hann and bassist Ross MacDonald who evoked a wave of screams and shouts of appreciation from the sold out ‘HMV Ritz’. The drums rattled to the opening track ‘The City’ and lead singer Matthew Healy swaggered on stage with a half drunk bottle of red wine in his hand which he held up in the air, in an attempt to be profound, before swigging. The singer, dressed in black skinny jeans, black turtle neck polo and a black leather jacket conforms totally to the ‘sex, drugs and rock n’ roll’ image that has been constructed over years of watching the lives of ‘rock stars’ unfold before our very eyes. Eyeing the audience, the singer overwhelmed the hundreds of teenage girls who were present, as he ran his hand through his unusual haircut. Healy dominated the stage, flirting, almost unconsciously now, with his stardom.
The stage was clad in darkness except for an ominous rectangle, the group’s emblem. As the drums continued to beat, Healy stood on the amps, his skinny figure silhouetted by the bright shine of the rectangle. He grabbed the microphone and sang out the lyrics ‘Don’t call it a fight when you know it’s a war’ whilst almost staggering across the stage, drunk on adrenaline. ‘The City’ played out with tremendous precision and had the immersed the audience in an uncontrolled energy as Healy’s scratchy vocals drew them in. The stage flickered with strobe lights as the four musicians ‘tore up the stage’, rampaging their guitars and harassing the drums. Throughout the evening the 1975’s played with intense passion, enthusiasm, gratitude and skill. They washed audiences over with a torrent of emotion and conducted themselves with an unexpected amount of sincerity. They humbly told the crowd that they had ‘no idea how long we’ve waited for this show’, as to play to a sold out home show is an achievement for any group.
Whilst his guitar lied in safe hands at the side of the stage, Healy danced along to each of his songs, gradually removing items of clothing as his original ‘cool guy’ wardrobe was simply impractical for the heat of the venue. The dark attire of the band looked smart and coincided with their famous lyrics ‘we’re dressed in black from head to toe’, taken from their song ‘Chocolate’. The black dress code allowed the group to appear in unison, making a fuller impact upon the audience. As Healy’s eyes again lingered across the audience he said ‘there are a lot of girls in this room tonight’ and after a brief pause he continued with ‘this one is for you’ before the band launched into the song ‘Girls’ which is taken from their number one album ‘1975’. At 9.35pm the musicians walk off stage in a rather boring ‘encore’ that is more predicable than it is effective. Upon their return, Healy was topless and threw his turtleneck polo into the audience, deeming it of no use to him anymore – how rock n’ roll. Upon playing ‘Chocolate’, debatably the song that first brought the band to mainstream attention, Healy retreated from the microphone allowing for the audience to sing back his own lyrics; the egotistical journey for the singer was well underway. Next up was the song ‘Sex’ because ‘this is how it starts, t-shirts off in the back of my van’. The group concluded the evening with ‘You’, but not before thanking us for our support, love and affection. Healy said ‘If you’re coming to see us in January – I’ll see you then. If you’re not – have a good life. Thank you!’ As the last notes of ‘You’ echoed around the venue, the crowd splurged out the venue like a swam of wasps. The 1975 had put on a performance of a lifetime and one we certainly would not be forgetting anytime soon.