Watching live music is one of my all time favourite things to do – it has always fascinated me that music has the power to bring a room full of strangers together, to revel in the sounds that make them all feel something collectively. Often in cold and lonely cities, live music offers a much needed respite from the self indulgent bubbles we confine ourselves to, and it is within those hour long set lists that I feel this the most.
Image: o2 Academy
Amongst a sea of people I walked into Brixton Academy below the iconic cinematic letters above the entrance – ‘The 1975’. Blinded by the vast white stage against the dark room until my eyes adjusted to the light, a hum of voices and the smell of beer was thick in the air – echoes of past performances and eras in which I have not lived engrained in the walls of this building, the whole place is steeped in history.
Cold drink in hand I found a spot in the audience, the floor with its slope towards the stage is the perfect venue for a guaranteed view of the stage and those you’ve been waiting to see perform on it. And they’re close; everyone can feel it, the energy in the room shifts as a delirious ringing of a single guitar strum is played and stretched out for an age. And then it happens, they walk onto the stage taking up their positions and burst into ‘Love Me’ fighting against an almost deafening wave of screams the track’s 80s feel pumps into your chest and makes your feet move with a mind of their own.
With a flick of his hair front man Matt Healy has the entire audience captivated, a glass of wine in hand he is effortlessly cool as he sways along with the crowd. Laughing into the microphone when the audience recites every word perfectly; you can feel his amazement and awe, how these four boys from Manchester have managed to play to crowds all over the world and release two studio albums.
They’re a far cry from their performances at the end of 2014 when during their performance of ‘Sex’ at the Boston House of Blues they broke down as a result of too much, too soon; the pressures and substances that come with fame getting the better of them. Their second studio album became a rehab of sorts with multiple tracks speaking of their battle with mental health, popularity, love and death.
Their set list was an eclectic selection of beloved chart hits and funky niche tracks, played against bright pink and blue lights, a nod to their transition from the darker days. The white LED pillars surrounding them turned into a towering cityscape, reminding us just how small they really are; we so often sit our idols on top of impossibly high pedestals, ones they are destined to fall from because they are unable to live up to our expectations, because at the end of the day they are only human just like us.
In the wake of their first album and their bittersweet taste of fame came their contrasting second album which is unfalteringly heartfelt, fun and grown – which is exactly how this show felt. And as the last chord of their encore song ‘Girls’ played, I wished for it to begin again. If I wasn’t a fan already, I was sure to be now.