Supporting its latest release, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, pop-rock band The 1975 made its way to Cincinnati’s PNC Pavilion on May 12 to wow fans and show why it’s one of the biggest bands in music right now.
Hailing from Manchester, England, the band opened the show with its self-titled track, “The 1975,” which appears on all three albums released by the Brits. Frontman Matty Healy (vocals/rhythm guitar), came onto stage cladded in bell bottom blue jeans and cowboy boots. The rest of the band took a more traditional approach; Ross MacDonald (bass), and George Daniels (drums), wore black suit pants and jackets with white undershirts — which emulated the likes of the Beatles earlier career — while, Adam Hann (lead guitar) took a more indie approach: skinny jeans and a jean jacket.
Outfits aside, as the music continued to blare and the lighting changed colors, Healy quickly began dancing, almost as if he had no bones in his body. The band transitioned from the opening track to “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME,” displaying the song title over and over again within one of the three rectangles, an iconic 1975 emblem, donning the stage design.
The four-piece band, who grew to fame in 2010, is known for its crazy, aesthetically pleasing lights as well as the aforementioned rectangle, which appears on two of the band’s three album covers. Fog machines covered the stage and mixed with the colorful lights as lyrics from songs “I like America and America likes Me” and “Me” occasionally made appearances. Never staying stagnant, the background imagery constantly changed. Between lyrics, cityscapes and technological glitching, the set design gave audience-goers a surreal, almost dreamlike experience that continued to keep fans on their toes.
The 1975 has created a loyal fanbase, and it showed in the sold-out show last night. Fans screamed the lyrics to every song of the 21-song set, and Healy didn’t shy away from interacting with fans. Whether he was singing to them, pointing at others or getting closer to the crowd, the frontman made sure to include the crowd in the set. “This song is about you guys,” Healy explained as the opening chords of “I Couldn’t Be More In Love” began. Healy finger-gunned away from his mic and took a drink of wine before crooning the love song to his fans — a song the fans sang right back to Healy.
As crazy as the crowd and Healy were, there were somber and quiet moments between high-energy songs and during slower songs like “Somebody Else” and “fallingforyou” — showing the band wasn’t afraid to slow things down during the mostly high-paced set. Healy even had the crowd freestyle dance to their slower hit, “Change of Heart.” The lights faded at the end of the song “Me,” leaving Healy standing by himself, looking down at the ground. As the music and lights faded out, the frontman gave a small wave to the crowd before vanishing into darkness.
Healy kept it light, even with the slower songs, making jokes like “fucking cheer up, Ohio” and describing Ohio as “the best emo” after the crowd sang along to “Change of Heart.” The 1975 kept a good mix of new and old songs as well. “Everything we do, now, feels relatively modern,” Healy told the crowd, explaining why he likes including the older songs in the set list.
With a cigarette in hand and a glass of wine resting on MacDonald’s piano, the show bordered a classic rock concert. Healy emulates the likes of Mick Jagger or David Byrne while performing, with his enigmatic dancing and almost character-like but relaxed demeanor. However, the backup dancers and singers who appear in the “Sincerity is Scary” music video kept the performance from being a complete rock show and made it more into a story and art piece.
The Jaiy twins, Taitlyn and Kaylee, snuck on stage for songs such as “It’s Not living (If It’s Not With You)”, “She’s American” and multiple more; carefully slipping on and off amid the transition of the colorful lights. Healy even joined the girls in dancing to some of the songs between singing and occasional guitar playing, ultimately, showing the crowd how much of a well-rounded musician he is.
The 1975 finished the night with the acoustic hit, “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes),” a song about Manchester. Healy was decked with an acoustic guitar as simple lights illuminated him. As the song picked up, the lights did too, timing perfectly with the beat. The band’s encore consisted of popular songs such as “Love It If We Made It” and “Chocolate,” as well as “The Sound” to end the night on a perfect note.
Whether concert-goers came to the show knowing every song through and through or only came because of the band’s radio hits, each and every person left having experienced something special. Healy and his bandmates emanated something special into their 90-minute set, and between the kaleidoscopic lighting and energizing music, The 1975 created its own little abstract reality for its fans to experience and revel in for the night.