The last month or so has been a dizzy concoction of success and excitement for The 1975. They performed on American TV, on both Saturday Night Live and The Jimmy Fallon Show, released their new highly-anticipated album ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it‘* to critical acclaim and have seen the album rocket to the top of the charts in five countries, including the UK and the US. The atmosphere in Brixton’s O2 Academy mirrored these successes on Wednesday evening as the buzz of almost five thousand fans filled the venue.
The evening commenced with a half hour set by The Japanese House, the project of shy but endearing Londoner Amber Bain. She shares a record label with The 1975 (the doing of The 1975’s Matt Healy and George Daniel who introduced the label to her in addition to producing some of her work) and musically draws upon similar influences. Her melancholic electronica is soaked in vocal effects and scatty sound samples which makes it a compelling listen, although it cries out for slightly more variation. Nevertheless, she was met with a warm reaction from the audience, particularly for the up-tempo ‘Cool Blue‘, one of her strongest tracks. She is certainly in possession of something special and is one to watch.**
Over the next half an hour, Brixton academy filled to the brim, the house lights dimmed gradually and an eerie, repetitive synthesiser sound became progressively louder. Finally, at nine o’clock, the venue was plunged into darkness, the synthesiser halted and multicoloured static filled the on-stage screens before the quirky riffs of ‘Love Me‘ began. It was the perfect opener, its buoyant tone perfect for generating energy from the audience. The band proceeded to rocket through a comprehensive set-list which catered for all, ranging from material from their early EPs to their current album. Hidden treasures from old EPs such as the 90’s R&B jam-inspired ‘So Far (It’s Alright)‘, slushy ‘fallingforyou‘ and the never-before-performed ‘Anobrain‘ served as a reminder of the band’s unfaltering ability to create enthralling music whilst tracks from the band’s début album such as ‘Heart Out‘, ‘Girls‘ and ‘Menswear‘ which were met with rapturous response from fans who chanted the lyrics at the top of their lungs. Their new material worked just as well; it was impossible not to dance to the INXS-influenced ‘She’s American‘ and the Prince-esque ‘UGH!‘ whilst the vulnerable ‘Somebody Else‘ and jittery ‘Change of Heart‘ captivated the audience.
“Brixton, I think I’m going mad”, Healy declared before the choral ‘ooh’s’ intro to ‘The Ballad of me and my Brain‘ began. The song appeared to baffle many of those unfamiliar with the new album but was brilliantly executed by the band and Healy who raised his performance game in this song, stumbling around the stage and falling to his knees in reference to the breakdown the song documents. Likewise, the cleverly worded, half-rapped ‘Loving Someone‘ and syrupy sweet ‘Paris‘ translated well into a live setting as Healy strutted across the stage and encouraged the crowd to sing.
Throughout the show, Healy – renowned for being a charismatic front-man – bounded around the stage, often with a glass of wine in his hand, buzzing with energy and enthusiasm and feeding off the crowd. He flexed, pouted, pranced and glided across the stage, interacting brilliantly with the crowd and often resulting in ear-piercing squeals reminiscent of Beatle-mania. He held the audience in the palm of his hand and was unafraid of being completely at ease on-stage, frequently wandering off to light a cigarette or to change into a shirt before declaring he’d made a mistake and changing back into his black t-shirt. During the poignant ‘Me‘, he instructed a fan to put their phone away after telling the audience to experience the song in the moment without technology present.
The show was also visually spectacular; the stage was permanently illuminated in various lighting combinations, providing a cinematic experience which was a perfect reflection of the band’s eclectic range of material. At times, this was utterly breathtaking and emphasised that sometimes simplicity achieves the best results.
The evening culminated in an intoxicating finale; an encore of four of the band’s best works. The first, ‘If I Believe You‘, an accomplished track which questions religion over D’Angelo slow-jam instrumentation was hauntingly beautiful. A choir of six accompanied the band and their gospel harmonies were spine-tingling. The choir remained on-stage for the ever-brilliant ‘Chocolate‘ and new classic ‘The Sound‘ which engendered an electric euphoria. During the latter, Healy instructed the crowd to jump, informing them their aim was ‘to break Brixton academy’. Grand finale ‘Sex‘, another of the band’s best-known songs closed the evening perfectly and remains one of the band’s best songs.
In all three times of seeing the band in the past two years, their performance at Brixton on Wednesday evening emphasised that they are the band of the moment. Healy’s vocals had never been better whilst fellow bandmates Adam Hann, Ross Macdonald and George Daniel were perfectly tight and synchronised musically. The only thing missing was two of the band’s best songs – ‘Settle Down‘ and ‘This Must Be My Dream‘ but one can hardly complain when the band delivered such a captivating show with an extensive range of material.
The 1975 were on top of their game at Brixton and long may it continue.
1. Love Me
3. Heart Out
4. So Far (It’s Alright)
5. A Change of Heart
6. She’s American
9. The Ballad of Me and My Brain
12. Somebody Else
15. Loving Someone
18. If I Believe You
20. The Sound
Catch The 1975 on tour now: