We went to see The 1975 at AO Arena in Manchester on Friday 20th January.
Date published: 23rd Jan 2023
From gnawing at a T-bone steak, being engrossed in toxic right-wing culture and stumbling around on stage clutching a bottle of wine, I'd already seen too many TikTok clips of Matty Healy on The 1975's most recent tour, 'The 1975: At Their Very Best'. Heading to their show in Manchester on the 20th of January I wanted to know- was this genuine or all a political act?
Rocking up at the arena to collect my tickets, there were already queues of mini Matty's (dressed in his iconic look of a white shirt and black tie) snaking around the venue; all eager to get that front row spot. There was such a high demand for tickets that I received airdrops from a handful of people asking to buy my tickets.
With mine being seated, I returned to the arena to arrive just in time to check out the merch, grab a drink and catch the support act. My jaw hit the floor when the lovely lady behind the bar moved the contactless reader in my direction- £7.95 for a pint of Strongbow! AO Arena- we're in a cost-of-living crisis, please sort it out!
Bonnie Kemplay was supporting during this UK tour. Signed to Dirty Hit, the same label as The 1975, her songs are beautifully told stories that transport you to the emotions she might have felt whilst writing the track. 'Blushing' was the last track on her setlist and one I'll certainly be having on repeat on my playlists for the foreseeable.
After winning BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge Introducing talent search and performing her own version of The 1975's 'If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know)', it seemed a fitting, full circle moment for her to be on tour with the band.
As the lights dimmed for The 1975, cheers erupted before the mammoth giant curtain dropped to reveal the full set on stage. As each member walked on through various living room doors their names flashed up on the screen, mimicking that of a sitcom. Designed like a living room TV set, the 'show within a show' was directed by Matty Healy himself. He took a role that saw him playing a chaotic and unstable person as the band tore through a good chunk of songs from their latest number-one album 'Being Funny In A Foreign Language'.
'Oh Caroline' and 'About You' were highlights of this side of the set, with the crowd going wild for guitarist Adam Hann's wife Carly Holt joining the band to sing on 'About You', as her name was splashed across the screen on the side of the stage.
The band then disappeared off stage, leaving front-man Matty alone and leading the performance. Kneeling to the ground and chomping on a huge lump of raw meat with red wine by his side, he's surrounded by old TVs playing videos of Putin, Andrew Tate, Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak and Margaret Thatcher. He turns to face the TVs and starts to do press-ups in front of them. The closer he gets to the TV, the more consumed he becomes, to the point where the TV opens and he slides into it.
When I've seen The 1975 in the past, I've been a little unsure of how they portray their political statements, but I really respected this one and showed exceptionally well. The whole act is called 'Consumption' and that speaks for itself.
To split these two halves of the set up, the London crowd were treated to a special guest appearance from Taylor Swift. Manchester were treated to Charli XCX. 'Vroom Vroom' seemed a little too niche for some of the audience but the majority, including myself, were over the moon at the guest appearance.
Charli XCX left the stage as quickly as she entered and marked the end of 'Fever Dream', before the band appeared for a more 'normal' side of the set. "We are The 1975 and we are from Wilmslow," Matty stated as he introduced himself properly this time.
The rest of the set onwards was hit after hit from the start of their career as a band. Manchester were lucky enough to get a performance of a rarely played track too, 'Menswear', which saw the whole set turned into hues of turquoise and pink. Other tracks included the fan favourites 'Somebody Else', 'Chocolate', 'Sex' and 'The Sound' before they bowed out to 'Give Yourself A Try'.
They played a two-hour-long set but were captivating for every single minute of it. The performance aspect was exceptional, the stage design was well thought out, up to the very last detail of the clock on the wall showing the right time. The band really were, to quote themselves, 'At Their Very Best'.
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