Earlier this year, The 1975 played five nights at Brixton Academy. They’ve headlined Ally Pally, the NME/Radio 1 tent at Reading & Leeds, and been extremely high up festival bills across the world. You might presume playing the Roundhouse – a venue far smaller than what they’re used to – wouldn’t mean that much to them.
You would, of course, be completely wrong. From the very beginning of tonight’s Apple Music Festival gig frontman Matt Healy looks he very much gives a damn about being here. He’s dressed up for the occasion, too, in a suit, white shirt and bowtie. The latter two pieces soon come off, but at least he’s made an effort. “I feel very nervous this evening,” he confides in the crowd at one point. Later, he’ll talk up how much of an honour it is to play, saying: “It means so much to be part of this line-up – Elton John, Robbie Williams and that. It’s mental.”
Throughout the performance he flits between these heartfelt sentiments and the kind of cocksure statements that would come across as arrogant were they delivered by someone with far less charm. As the show opens with an incendiary ‘Love Me’, he introduces the group. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to your favourite band The 1975.”
One of the things that saves them from falling into that trap of ego is that they make it very hard for you to argue with them. Each song is sublime, from the finger-snapping pastel-pop balladry of ‘Change Of Heart’ to the gospel swoons of ‘If I Believe You’, which Healy introduces as “being about God, but maybe not”. As the track’s sax solo reaches its climax, he takes his guitar off, leaps in the air and spreads his arms out in triumph. Before ‘Me’, he tells everyone to put their phones away: “Let’s just use our hearts and our minds and enjoy each other’s company.” It’s impossible not to get swept along by his passion and enthusiasm, or the jaw-droppingly brilliant lighting, which deservedly won an award at the Knight Of Illumination Awards just days prior to the show.
It’s testament to The 1975 that the two bigger cheers of the night come for songs from their second album, ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It‘. The very first crunching beat of ‘Loving Someone’ has the audience practically beside themselves and if Healy didn’t sing along with them you probably wouldn’t notice. Penultimate track ‘The Sound’, a strong contender for song of the summer, elicits a similar response. Midway through, Healy asks the thrashing crowd in front of him a favour. “On the count of four we’re gonna turn it up another 50 percent,” he says and everyone obeys him, even up on the balcony. The only song from their self-titled debut album that remotely compares is ‘Chocolate’.
Earlier in the night, Healy uses the gig’s live stream to say hi to a few people. “We’re all on the telly right now, which is on the computer, but that’s the same thing now. Might as well shout out some friends,” he says before listing off the likes of Wolf Alice, The Rhythm Method, Swim Deep and Skepta, some of whom are watching from the audience. He’s got one other group to give a mention to before he’s done. “Shout out us,” he concludes. It’d be audacious at most gigs, but here it’s severely deserved. If The 1975 aren’t your favourite band by the end of a show like this, you must be dead inside.