The 1975: Arena, Manchester

2016 has been quite the year for British Indie-Rock band The 1975 and, unsurprisingly, the likely lads from Manchester (not forgetting the lovely George Daniel from Brussels) didn’t disappoint with their huge hometown gig at the Arena this week.

Support came from Alt-Indie singer/songwriter Amber Bain – better known as her solo project, The Japanese House. A short but sweet setlist of six warmed the audience and Bain began her set with ‘Teeth’ from debut EP, ‘Pools To Bathe In’ – a track which oozed chill vibes reminiscent of those from The 1975’s self-titled first album. Signed to Dirty Hit Records, who say her music “pushes the parameters of alt pop”, The Japanese House works closely with The 1975’s George Daniel and Matthew Healy to produce hypnotic and delicately ethereal tracks. Drawing the set to a close was ‘Still’, the penultimate track from the EP which worked perfectly to prepare the arena for the main act with it’s wonderfully deep, ambient sound.

After being awarded with the Radio 1 Live Lounge ‘Performance of the Year’ and performing live at the BBC Music Awards the evening before, the boys had decided to stick with their smart attire and donned the stage in a collection of expensive-looking suits – proving that the rock n’ roll lifestyle can also be suave and sophisticated.

Kickstarting with ‘The 1975’ – the opening track from their successful new album “I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It” – the Victoria Station venue became filled with overwhelming atmosphere from both sound and stage visuals. Frontman, Matthew Healy, greeted the 21,000 capacity hall as fans screamed and cheered before picking up speed with the second and third songs from second album, ‘Love Me’ and ‘UGH!’. Since headlining the NME stage at popular British music festival, Reading and Leeds earlier this year, Healy’s stage presence has continued to grow and exert prowess – the response from the crowd made it very clear.

Alongside Adam Hann and Ross MacDonald, Healy took to keys to perform the other-worldly track, ‘I Like It When You Sleep…’, lifting the night to another level with help from an abyss of illuminations. Taking a moment to check to see if his white button-up shirt still looked “okay” after an accidental spillage of red wine, Healy received inevitable whistling and chants of “Take it off!” from the animated listeners. Humoured by the response, the indie dreamboat exclaimed “Oh, stop it!” before ensuring that everyone was “having a good time” and jumping straight into old favourite, ‘M.O.N.E.Y’.

After the occasional dab during ‘Undo’ and an energetic performance of ‘Milk’ – a secret track from their debut album, Matty informed the punters that the night was to be “a journey through the history” of The 1975 and “the biggest thing” that the band have ever done. Matty then discussed the band’s recent visit to America, being there whilst Trump was elected as well as being in England during the Brexit results, describing both events as “equally as mad”. He then reminded the audience that they were all there for the same purpose, to see the band perform, and encouraged everyone to “come together” regardless of “regressive ideals”.  The band received a warm cheer for their positive beliefs as Matty held up an LGBT flag with the words ‘Loving Someone’ written across it prior to playing the powerful song of the same name.

A compilation of old and new records flowed together to generate an unforgettable night for all, topped off by 20th track of the night ‘Sex’, a well-known (and evident) crowd favourite. Lights dimmed whilst the audience howled and eagerly waited for the band’s return to stage for a 4 song encore. The unmistakable first chords of stand-alone track ‘Medicine’ revealed Healy sporting a leather jacket with a Smiths-esque bouquet of flowers on the back as the arena began to fill with light from thousands of phones. Completing the impressive 24 song set came the popular hit ‘Chocolate’ followed by newer banger ‘The Sound’, resulting in a standing ovation from both young and old supporters.

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