- 04 Mar 20
Paul Nolan was on-hand as Matty Healy and the boys made a brilliant return to Dublin.
After a fine set from emo contender beabadoobe – compromised of thumping indie-rockers and mellow balladry – it's time for the art-pop kings du jour. That The 1975 are a more intriguing proposition than most of their arena-headlining peers is apparent from the pre-show mixtape alone: the left-field tunes from the likes of Can and Gang Of Four only increases the air of subversion around Matty Healy and crew.
Of course, given his photogenic qualities and flair for the memorable sound bite, Healy overshadows his bandmates to a considerable degree. Though the Manchester quartet are a four-piece in the classic rock tradition, unlike Blur, U2 or The Stone Roses, their rise to success hasn't seen each member take his own place in the public consciousness. Rather, the focus is more or less fully on Healy, and it's a role he clearly relishes.
Still, he's not one to overdo the glitz: he strides onstage wearing the same black hoody and trousers he wore during a dressing room interview with Hot Press a few hours ago (a fascinating deep dive that will appear in an upcoming issue). Though perhaps betraying a hint of tiredness from the intense first leg of the tour, Healy nonetheless boasts obvious star quality: a singer with impressive range, he also has the kind of slick moves and easy rapport with the crowd that make for an irresistibly charismatic stage presence.
Most crucially, The 1975 also have the substance to back up the style. With the epic A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, they managed to hit the sweet spot many artists crave but rarely attain: mass popularity twinned with critical acclaim and zeitgeist-defining cultural impact. Its ongoing success has continued right into the present moment, meaning the band remain in the midst of their imperial phase.
It's an achievement based around an extraordinary eclecticism beyond many of their contemporaries – certainly, the likes of Arctic Monkeys or Kasabian are left a long way in the distance. The 1975 undoubtedly have their share of sugary guitar-pop anthems, such as 'Me & You Together Song'; a sort of artistic baseline to which they regularly return.
But when they stretch their wings and experiment with different styles, the effect is frequently exhilarating. 'Sincerity Is Scary', for example, is an infectious R&B jam that prompts the first of several singalongs. Like the accompanying vid, it finds Healy donning a backpack and wooly hat, and – the coup de grace – stepping on an airport-style moving walkway at the front of the stage, allowing for some nifty Moonwalking.
'Love Me', meanwhile, is a truly sublime slice of catchy funk-pop that could be a lost Prince classic from the '80s. At one point, the band even segue from a thumping garage workout into an hypnotic shoegaze epic: completing the trippy feel, Healy is elevated into the centre of the big screen, where the visuals morph and swirl around his silhouette as he cranks out some fuzzed-up guitar noise.
As ever, the frontman is The 1975's trump card. He makes theatrical gestures, does choreographed routines with the backing dancers, and even disarms a building "Ole Ole" chant with a classic line ("Hey – this isn't a fuckin' Charlatans gig!").
Towards the end of the show, he appeals for quiet before a playback of the band's recent Greta Thunberg collaboration, which finds the teenage activist outlining the dire nature of the global environmental crisis over a dreamy ambient soundscape. It's the kind of all-or-nothing gesture that could backfire, but by the end, the crowd have broken into applause, and are soon back up dancing again to the Radiohead-go-pop anthem 'Love It If We Made It'.
It's another moment confirming that, right now, The 1975 can do no wrong.
- Feature photo by Danni Ronan.