The Ups and Downs of The 1975

The music world and the world in general was rocked earlier this week when a terrorist set off an explosive device at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. Many were injured and 22 died. And more of our innocence was lost. Music is supposed to be a safe place. A place where expression is possible and encouraged. Our belief that music (live) was a place we could escape to for a couple of hours was shattered. Young music fans were targeted and became the victims of an unspeakable evil. At a time in which we needed music more than ever our trust in it was diminished. Would we ever be able to go to a concert without thinking about what happened in Manchester and that somewhere in the recesses of minds the thought that it could happen again.

maxresdefault (1)Things like that were on my mind as I walked onto the grounds of Parc Jean Drapeau. Not only was I going to a live show, but to make things even more poignant the band I was seeing is from Manchester, England. The 1975, Matt Healy (lead vocals/guitar/keyboards), Adam Hann (guitar/keyboards), Ross MacDonald (bass/keyboards), and George Daniel (drums), is a young pop band who was tasked with the huge responsibility of making those in attendance (for probably most there it was their first live show since the bombing) trust in live music again. Feel safe and just enjoy what was happening. Used to be easier.

To their credit other than mentioning that they were from Manchester (which Healy tends to do at most shows) no mention was made of the tragedy. This wasn’t a night for sombreness; it was a night (an unseasonably cool one) that was set up to celebrate music and enjoy how it can make us feel.

tumblr_nz78lw2dAb1tceq8fo10_1280Like their music, this was an up and down night. Some of their songs are great pieces of pop while others are a little too down tempo and navel gazing. Just as The 1975 got the crowd going with songs like “Love Me”, “A Change of Heart”, “She’s American” and “Girls” they played some incredibly sombre songs or even an instrumental one. It took all the wind out of the proverbial sails. A tad too self indulgent.

When they are good they are great. Frontman Matt Healy owns the stage like other greats like Freddie Mercury or other lounge lizards from the past. He is a complex ball of cute, stoned (usually is), serious, mad man, and bouncing curls. He won’t talk that much on stage. Just the usual thanks and precious little else. Talk is not that needed when you are that outlandish. He is like his generation’s version of those lusted after 70s rock gods.

Their first self-titled album was filled with classic pop tunes that focused on themes like love, drugs and sex. All you expect from a young band. Changing things up with their sophomore album, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, they went in a more 80s pop direction. Because they are talented and mavericks of a sort both sounds work. Even live.

Some of their songs are genius striking a balance between intelligence and irresistible hook laden. Cheeky lyrics (even if they focus a lot on typical subjects like love and drugs) coupled with hooks that will have you dancing and you can’t get out of your head.

The lulls make you wonder if the band even cares about the people in the audience. It is almost as if they had forgotten that thousands were standing on a soggy ground in the cold wanting to make a connection through the band’s music. These moments were perplexing. Especially when, during the latter part of the show, Healy convinced all in attendance to put their phones away and live in the moment. He obviously wanted to share the experience with the fans and cares, so makes the introverted moments stick out all that much more.

8ad1943358f1ec198ef2f0706fc8e848A superior aspect of the show was the lights and video screens. The large and digital video screens set the table by often reverting back to the band’s signature neon pink colour. Occasionally the screens went stark black and white, which in this setting was eye catching. Other times the screens had the backdrop of a city There were also three neon rectangle shapes suspended above the band.

If you have not discovered The 1975 don’t miss the chance to. They are one of the best new British bands of the moment. A very pleasant mix of 80s pop with funky R&B. Slick, with all members of the band comfortable with traditional instruments as well as with the more modern electronic versions of them, but still exude a youthfulness that makes them endearing. A band made up of contradictions. Requiring you to pay attention and to stick with it to see where they are heading.


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