“This is getting too meta, I’m going to recognise you guys being here” Matty exhales as he addresses the 15,000 people gazing at him as he waltzes through the elaborate stage set up. Postmodernism and intertextuality being at the forefront of everything he does, his dedication to irony and his persona really does make him a marmite character. That being said, I do fucking love marmite on my toast.
The 1975, At Their Very Best. An elegantly fitting title, drenched in this sickly sweet irony that the band have spent 10 years playing into. Leading this extensive setlist with a plethora of tracks from their latest album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language, to say the crowd was absolutely ecstatic would be an understatement. A mix of demographic for sure; hard core tumblr kids, young adults who lived their teens soundtracked to Matty’s ramblings and confused parents are some noticeable groups (I’ll leave you to have a gander at which clique I belong to!).
I digress, an ensemble of charming 80s style sax gorgeously and seamlessly played by saxophonist John Waugh, chirped around the venue during the first songs ‘Looking for Somebody (to love)’ and ‘Happiness.’ Building the atmosphere for the band’s newest tracks to follow in their footsteps during the first half of the set. Each contains versions of the trademark sparkling yet droning synth / guitar combo that is undeniably The 1975s almost signature sound. That and Matty’s definitive vocals and charisma (or dick-head-ness… depends who you’re talking to, really).
Speaking of Matty and his outrageousness and self referential outlook, and his recent rise to tik tok (ironic) fame after spitting a series of silly auto tuned adlibs during the opening of track ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME.’ He caved hard and gave into the ‘don’t like menthols’ meme. It’s hard to explain, it’s one of those if you know..you know.. funny moments. He dramatically and prematurely stopped the track to give the whaling crowd what they wanted. Safe to say it was wonderfully silly as he exclaimed to us “you better fucking do it though or now I look like a right idiot” Naturally, the crowd exploded after this.
And so we move forward, now over half way through the set, we have reached The Very Best section. Or, maybe more accurately, the gut wrenching nostalgia section for us betrothed The 1975 fans. Killing us off by playing ‘Robbers,’ a track from their first album Self Titled, a song that leaks the deepest melancholy you’ve ever felt with monumental vocals to match – and then Matty announces proudly “This song’s fucking depressing” and the delicate keys of the intro to ‘Somebody Else’ echo like soft scream in a forest. The title is self explanatory really, it’s one of those cry into your pillow songs.
Whatever your opinions on Matty as a frontman are, he is unquestionably a master of his craft, and a bloody brilliant performer. Like, during cult classic ‘The Sound’ he got every signal member of this crowd off their feet and jumping. Beautifully accompanied by George (drummer) Adam (lead guitarist) and Ross (bassist) these guys are integral to keeping Matty humbled, yet they enhance the band massively.
A moment I cherished was cliche, but I don’t care. During the deeply moving track “I Always Wanna Die (sometimes) a tsunami of torches glowed throughout the venue, making the crowd twinkle with emotional radiance.
Without a doubt an unmissable show, a spectacular stage set up that resembles a living room too, I cannot fault The 1975. Hats off to the production crew and behind the scenes team, the lighting and visuals were sensational. All in all, I’ve been obsessed with this band since my early teens, and this show only made me adore them more.
The 1975 – at their very best. Resorts World Arena, Birmingham. 15th January 2023.
Words by Kate Feast.
Photos from The 1975.