Imagine you enter a concert venue and walk into what could easily look like a business meeting for under-30-year-olds or a new type of very well-dressed cult. What might seem strange to others, was, in fact, The 1975’s sold-out two-day residency at London’s famous O2 Arena – and it was anything but a business meeting.
The set started with songs from their most recent record ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’, which was released in October 2022 and had everyone scream out the lyrics word for word — even casual listeners who weren’t dressed in suits. It was a show of many highlights, with their heartfelt song ‘About You’ featuring guitarist Adam Hann’s wife, Carly Holt-Hann, performing live on stage as a guest – a big surprise to fans, considering that a couple of months ago Holt-Hann had said that she found the idea of joining them more than terrifying. But of course, frontman Matty Healy quickly jumped online to ask fans to show their love and support for her for a potential future appearance.
The stage, impressively built to look and function like a real house stood out as one of the main features and underlined the concert’s structure to portray a theatre play. And then the lights started to dim, a sudden shift lingering in the air. Only Healy was left on the stage, with his fellow band members having said goodbye before quite literally walking out of the door. Soft instrumentals set in as the beloved singer made himself comfortable on the stage living room’s sofa, a cigarette in one hand, touching himself with the other as the violins in the background started to heighten. A surreal kind of moment, that also got accentuated by the artist chewing on a piece of raw meat, kneeling in front of a row of TVs, and hyping himself (and the crowd) up by doing push-ups and, finally, crawling into the TV as the lights went black. While there have been a lot of conspiracies doing rounds online regarding what this intermission programme might mean, Healy and the band have yet to explain its true sentiment. However, it is clear that it portrays a raw form of art that people aren’t necessarily used to, which leads to it being talked about – essentially an artist’s main goal.
Then came the second half of the show, but instead of The 1975, the attendees of the first night of two were greeted by global star Taylor Swift. Though divided feelings on her guest appearance were discussed on social media afterwards, the crowd was roaring from the moment she asked “Is it okay if I sing?”. Not only was she performing her most recent — and also one of her most successful singles – ‘Anti-Hero’ live for the very first time, she also covered one of the band’s most famous songs ‘The City’, causing screams, tears and general disbelief. Her out-of-the-blue performance wasn’t just a fever dream to fans but also a great introduction to the second bit of the gig, as the buzzing energy vividly intensified once the band came back to claim their place on stage. Catchy tunes like their single ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ sent the crowd into a state of dance-frenzy, and the whole arena was trembling.
The heart-achingly beautiful classic ‘Robbers’ deserves an honourable mention as Healy has been known for a decade to bring fans on stage and kiss them during the song’s bridge. What started as a revival of 2014-Tumblr culture, quickly turned into the frontman’s biggest most recent controversy — “Grooming, is what they call it on the internet”, he said, but let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love to not only be acknowledged but share an intimate moment with a person they’ve spent days daydreaming about? However, Healy refrained from kissing a fan during the first night, as he’s “not kissing anyone in front of Taylor Swift”, out of respect — but he still ended up giving multiple front-rowers a cheeky peck the night after.
The 1975 have always been known to love interacting with their crowd – also apart from the one or the other smooch. Healy, as so often, handed it over to their adoring fans to decide parts of the setlist, this time either the sweet ‘Paris’ or the smooth ‘A Change Of Heart’. But obviously, you can hardly go and have an actual discussion in the middle of a show in front of 20.000 people, so screams were used to decide, as it was revealed that the production team was measuring the decibels in the arena for each song. And while democracy and ‘A Change Of Heart’ won for the first night, dictatorship held on strong during the second, as Healy laughed ‘I’m a tryant’.
The show then ended with two of their most upbeat and well-known songs on their discography, ‘The Sound’ and ‘Give Yourself A Try’, allowing the audience once more to experience the band at their very best and sending them off with exuberant melodies stuck in their heads. 2023, as Healy mentioned multiple times throughout the concert, marks ten years since the band’s first studio release, but there remains one thing about The 1975 – they just keep getting better.
Written by Vicky Madzak // photography by Samuel Bradley