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The 1975

The 1975 – 02 Arena

Award-winning four-piece The 1975 have made an emphatic return to the stage as their Still…At Their Very Best Tour reaches the UK for a fresh set of shows that sees them at the peak of their powers.

The worldwide sensation has gone from success to success, and 2023 was a huge year for the growth of the group, which included them headlining London’s Finsbury Park, and performing on the coveted Reading & Leeds Festival stage once again. It’s been an exciting time to be a ‘75 fan, and it’s clear the band has been building up to boast their best work on this final leg of the tour. Tonight sees the beginning of the group’s three-night residency at the O2 Arena, London, before returning for a fourth and final show next week. After months of anticipation and build-up, the bands performance was a testament to their continued musical gifts, and they show off why they are Still…At Their Very Best.

The arena was filling up quickly, as ‘75 fans made their excitement known; it was excellent to see so many people dressed up like the band’s frontman, Matty Healy, each in their own unique and diverse way which was a common feature at these shows nowadays. Being the first of their four London shows, there was an extra buzz present, as the audience prepared for an unforgettable night.

Kicking things off for the electric audience was upcoming indie-rock group The Japanese House, who despite only being the support act, made the stage their own and had the crowd on strings from the very start of their set. The group kicked off with their opener, Sad to Breathe, and it was received well by the crowd, whose energy levels were gradually increasing. They worked their way through an impressive setlist which showed off the best work from the group, including their tracks Touching Yourself, Morning Pages, and Boyhood. The band were hugely successful in demonstrating the variety held within their material and they performed it with sheer professionalism; Amber Bain did a superb job with the lead vocals.

All too soon was it time for them to depart, and they did so in style by leaving fans with their most popular number, Sunshine Baby. The choruses were sung with authority as the track wowed the growing attendance, and it was the perfect way to end the opening set to the indie-rock extravaganza that was about to fill the London air. I’m sure we’ll see The Japanese House appear at more festivals and shows very soon.

The Japanese House
Photo Credit: Kieran Tibbert

It was then time for the main event, and it was clear that tonight’s London audience would bring 110%. The ambient music filling the atmosphere died away as a much louder chimed percussion began to ring out as the lights began flickering. Such events were met with huge cheers from the energetic crowd, as the huge curtain concealing the stage dropped. London was ready.

The setup of the stage was an impressive and unique sight, and the background visuals were simply stunning; an unpretentious depiction of the singer’s house with a starry backdrop, each side and level separated with doors, stairs, and every corner filled with an intriguing style of home-décor. Matty was already there on the stage, and as they kicked off with the latest rendition of their self-titled The 1975 track, the band slowly settled onto the stage; the crowd were in the grasp of the groups hand right from the off. The crowd then exploded with energy as the band went straight into their unmissable number Looking for Somebody (To Love) which brought the arena to life; it was a commanding and confident opening sequence. The opening act of the show continued with more hits including Happiness, Part of the Band, Oh Caroline and I’m in love with you, which all involved the frontman swaggering around the stage with a pint in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

Playing at one of London’s most coveted venues warrants an opportunity for an uncommon setlist, and the first song to catch the audience, and myself, off-guard was The Birthday Party, an audibly pleasing track which was perfectly executed on the night. The band then wasted no time in throwing us back into their classics, the nostalgic A Change of Heart, and most notably those 4 defining notes of Robbers which had the crowd unite for a surreal spectacle. In an interview ahead of this leg of the tour, Matty said he wanted to forefront their 2020 record Notes on a Conditional Form, and so they did, as Roadkill was another track which earnt its way into the set, throwing the band into a brief country-rock era.

The sequence tracks were placed in the setlist was seamless, as numerous songs which the fans closely connect with leaned into bringing out all the teenage emotions within. A mouthwatering rooftop rendition of Me was followed by a song which fans had connected themselves with for so many years: Fallingforyou. The infamous and beloved About You, featuring vocals from guest Carly Holt-Hann, followed and went down an absolute treat for the crowd, who were still bringing sheer energy to the London air. The first Act of the set concluded with the calming When We Are Together, which, despite being paused and restarted towards the end due to a lyrical mishap, was performed so sweetly and was a delight to hear live again. During the pause, Matty addressed the London crowd and spoke about the show being recorded for a potential concert film; yet another reason for ‘75 fans to get excited!

The band slowly left, but Matty remained, as he began getting consumed by negative media coverage once again from politically motivated TV screens adjacent to him. This consumption soon materialised, as left the stage by sliding through one of the TV screens. The attendance was once again taken by surprise, as the struggling frontman reappeared at the rear of the Arena on the bands ‘B Stage’, a small rectangular portion of turf on a raised platform, where Matty performed the politically charged I Like America & America Likes Me. A naked replica of Matty himself lay lifeless in the centre as he sang; the whole scene looked like something out of a dream, or a nightmare, or even a psychedelic trip.

As the London crowd prepared themselves for the conclusive act of the show, featuring many of the band’s greatest hits, a peaceful rendition of Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America, performed by their backing vocalist and guitarist Polly Money, had fans swaying as they sang; it was the calm before the storm.

The 1975
Photo Credit: Kieren Tibbert

The latter end to the set was as you would expect, full of thrilling tracks and home to some of their biggest and most popular numbers. The crowd up for it, as they were thrown right into the thick of the bands’ classics including If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know), TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME, and It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You), all which were received with such energy; you could only scarcely hear Matty’s vocals over the crowd during most of these tracks. On the topic of huge tracks being played at such a notable venue, the crowd were treated to another huge surprise as Matty attempted to bring the excitement and energy of his audience to a whole new level. The moment those poignant riffs of Menswear began, you knew things were getting crazy; it was hailed by one of the loudest cheers of the night as fans went wild.

The set was nearing a close, but not until more of their greatest hits had been played. The Sound, Somebody Else, I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes), and the ever relevant and ferocious Love It If We Made It all combined to make it an unforgettable night for the London audience.Their final two tracks of the night would be the all-time classic Sex, as well as the frenzied and hostile finale on the ‘B Stage’ with People; the crowd used up any remaining voice they had in them, and both were nothing short of spectacular. All too soon was it the end of the band’s first night at the O2 Arena, and they left London wanting more.  The group has always unleashed and touched upon many of the different emotions inside their fans: desire, heartbreak, frustration, and sneaks of optimism; only they have the power to unlock such strong reactions.

The 1975 remain one of the best bands to see live in the world, and the conclusion of this leg of their tour will see them begin an indefinite hiatus from performing for a while, according to Matty Healy. One can only hope that they return with new music and a new tour as soon as possible. For me, it was a memorable and emotional night spent singing my heart out.

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