Arguably the most successful homegrown band of the year, The 1975 have enjoyed a plentiful 2016; achieving chart success and flourishing international fame with their acclaimed sophomore album, I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the penultimate show in the UK leg of their first world arena tour blew the roof off, exceeding expectations and putting on a truly spectacular show of immense theatricality and great musical content.
The Bournemouth show began with a half hour set from support act, The Japanese House. Though visibly nervous, sole band member Amber Bain provided a set of enchantingly soulful synth tunes, which really complimented The 1975’s distinct style. The most recent single, ‘Face Like Thunder’, sounded particularly good live, offering a beautifully layered, almost dreamy HAIM-like vibe to the arena.
After Bain left the stage, the band playfully toyed with the audience, filling the stage with fog and blasting out teasing bursts of ambiguous white noise before finally charging onto the stage in a flash of bright pink light and opening with the album’s lead single, ‘Love Me’. The band’s energetic entrance had the audience enthralled as everyone eagerly bopped along to the frenetic verve of the song, which was followed by the second single (and personal favourite), ‘UGH!’.
As the show went on and the set-list ran through such tracks as ‘Change of Heart’, ‘Heart Out’, ‘Robbers’, ‘She’s American’ and ‘Somebody Else’; two things became very clear. The first was that Matt Healy is an immensely charismatic showman. He danced, mimed and strutted across the stage with a huge amount of charm and theatricality – echoing the stylings of Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson to name a few. It’s hard to believe that the band’s original line-up had Healy on drums, since his stage presence and skills as a performer – though constantly improving – are incredibly engaging.
Healy’s live vocals were even better than expected, and only aided by the hype of a very enthusiastic and well-versed crowd. The other members of the band – Adam Hann (Lead Guitar), Ross MacDonald (Bass) and George Daniel (Drums) – were also very proficient, offering some brilliant, synth-heavy instrumentals.
The second thing that became clear was just how spectacular the lighting and design of the set was. Each song had its own bright and beautiful hue – ranging from pinks, blues, greens and purples – as well as a unique and dynamic filter to the screens at either end of the stage. Pools of water washed across the screens during the band’s instrumental breaks, while static lightning erupted in their most energetic songs. It was a really eye-catching view that enraptured each and every member of the audience – from those hustled on the ground floor to the viewers on the balcony.
Healy was also very keen to connect with the audience in the quieter moments between songs, offering his unique views on the state of the world. “It’s been a terrible year,” he said, before quipping “was Harambe this year or last year?” The frontman implored the young members of the audience to not let “villains” like Donald Trump win and to focus on ‘Loving Someone’. This thoughtful segue into the album track was further enhanced by the rainbow of light that was shrouded over the audience; echoing a message of pride and love.
Though a few older fan favourites were missing from the set (most notably ‘Settle Down’ and ‘The City’), the crowd erupted with even more enthusiasm when the band played the likes of ‘Girls’ and ‘Sex’. Playfully toying with their adoring audience once more, the band left the stage before coming back for a fantastic encore that saw live renditions of ‘Medicine’, ‘Chocolate’ and finally ‘The Sound’.
Overall, it was an incredible night, with The 1975 proving themselves to be a force to be reckoned with as they advance further into international fame and success.