The 1975 LIVE @ O2 Apollo, Manchester – 3/5 * * *

The 1975 played the last of their four-day stint in Manchester, at the delightful 02 Apollo, as part of their UK tour.

One of NME’s hype bands for 2013 Circa Waves, played the main support slot for the 1975. They fulfill the perfect indie boy band formula: trebly Fender gender guitar tones; energetic; fast and young. A previous single ‘Stuck In My Teeth’ was their strongest performance, a jangly twee number with a killer hook “I’m a little too young with not enough time.” Their relatable lyrics and chord driven melodies made them a suitable pairing of acts.

In the interval waiting for The 1975 to emerge, copious of dry ice plumed out of the smoke machines every 2 minutes to be greeted with piercing wails that created a scene more comparable with Ridley Scott’s Alien than a pop rock band performance.

A swooning sax approached our ears, strobes began to flutter, smoke began pouring out the machines again and out emerged the band. Most notable of all was Singer Matt Healy who began spiralling to his guitar clutching a bottle of red wine. The perfect picture of flamboyance and arrogance intertwined. Your girlfriend would love them, made more apparent by the high-pitched screams from the majority female populated audience every time Healy danced, spoke, sung or moved.

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The 1975s Matt Healy

They started strongly playing hits, ‘The City’ and ‘Milk’. Third track ‘M.O.N.E.Y’ approached full electronic-soul sticking closely to the usual thematic lyricism of a man on the town taking intoxicants and breaking shit. It was the nuance guitar tone that made that song striking with a half reverse delay and half phase sound.

They played each song as confidently as the last, playing their whole début without mistake punctuated with the frontman stating how “fucking” happy he was to be in Manchester, which was met with delight by the adoring crowd.

Whilst the band have made it no secret that they don’t stick to one genre, it soons becomes apparent they could easily be labelled ‘brand-rock’. Whereas ‘Sex’ doesn’t sound awfully similar to ‘M.O.N.E.Y’ or ‘Settle Down’, there are themes that tie them all together. This all combined with the black and white motifs, the smoky and hazy show they put on figureheaded by five white neon rectangles, it all just feels over styled and fake.

This logo of theirs, the rectangle was reflected almost accidentally by the gig dwellers living vicariously through grainy distorted footage on their smartphone, that they will inevitably show their friends for days to come or bombard social media with.

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Hip to be Square: Matt Healy

Halfway through, the performance almost certainly dipped in quality but the audience didn’t seem to care as Healy ripped open his shirt to reveal some bizarre tattoos to divert attention from the dross audible output. Cue the throwing of a girls bra on stage as met by the singer’s delight. Attempting to be humorous but sounding like a creep the singer replies: “I bet your mum’s proud of this one, you shouldn’t be willing to get rid of it in such a hurry, ahh well it belongs to Matty now”. What is this the seventies? Oh right yeah…1975 to be exact.

‘Heart Out’ and ‘Pressure’ formed the back of the musical plateau and it was only the introduction of a saxophonist that picked up the lacklustre outings. Even the band’s attempt at an intimate moment with the crowd with “Falling for You” was half-baked. They asked the crowd to put down their phones, laptops and iPads to see the crowd and ‘feel’ them. However, they relapsed before the song had even finished because they wanted to see something ‘beautiful’ as everyone waved their phones in the air again, a moment that they clearly hadn’t noticed had been occurring for 80% of the gig anyway.

Overall, this gig showed that whilst the majority of the 1975 songs aren’t offensive, their just morbidly average. ‘The City’, ‘M.O.N.E.Y’, ‘Sex’, ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Girls’ are all worth seeing live, yet regrettably the latter three of which formed the closing moments of the show meaning you’d be in for a long and patient wait to get to them. Although there is thrills to be found in the 80s pop harmonious, electronic flares, catchy hooks and crooning vocals by the camp, cocky and flamboyant Matt Healy it’s all feels a bit smoke and mirrors. Yes there are glimmers of a great pop band and their ability to put on a good show but most of the time these qualities are disfigured by the band’s penchant for a Top Shop image sheen for teenage girls to ogle at and a sleazy on stage demeanour sadly mistaken for swagger.

Score: 3/5 * *

Words: Luke Smith

Photos: Jay Broadhurst