Much of what The 1975 do comes shrouded in pontification. In Matty Healy, they have a frontman-cum-philosopher, his interview answers as profound as they are exploratory, the songwriter often flitting from lofty concepts to everyday intimacies on the fly. It’s an approach that’s won them both a devoted fanbase and a horde of naysayers, quick to cut them down as pretentious or arrogant. Amid all that noise, it’s easy to forget just how adept Healy and his bandmates are at writing a three-minute pop banger.
Take ‘Milk’, one of several older cuts that The 1975 aired last night (Feb 18) at their intimate BRITs Week show, in aid of Warchild. A B-side, secret track and firm fan favourite, it’s stripped free of the musical excess and wordy nature that present-day 1975 thrive on. When The 1975 tear into it midway through this – the latest in a series of intimate shows from the now comfortable arena-fillers – the venue-wide pogoing and scream-alongs that greet the track cut to the heart of what makes The 1975 so special.
That first self-titled record – at the time of release widely derided for being oh-so-emo – comprises a hefty chunk of tonight’s set. It’s a show resolutely for the fans (despite the growing mass of BRITs-invited ‘VIPs’ hogging the back bar), Healy reportedly adding more and more old cuts to the setlist right up until stagetime. Alongside ‘Milk’, the lesser-spotted likes of ‘She Way Out’ and emo ballad ‘Me’ also pop up, while ‘Menswear’ and ‘Sex’ EP cut ‘Undo’ point to the jazzy tendencies that comprised a huge chunk of last year’s ‘A Brief inquiry Into Online Relationships’ LP. Each of these older cuts are treated like returning heroes, with tears, screams and FaceTimed friends flooding the venue.
Of course, that BRITs-nominated ‘Brief Inquiry…’ also gets a fair showing, all four of its singles crammed into the set’s opening minutes, while ‘I Like America & America Likes Me’ and ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ prop up the end. “We’d normally do an encore,” announces Healy after the latter, “but it’s just too much effort getting off this stage and back on again.”
From there, the now-customary trio of ‘Love It If We Made It’, ‘The Sound’ and ‘Sex’ close out the evening, spanning all eras of The 1975. Each is greeted with the revelry it deserves. As the band surge towards the BRITs, a sure bet for the Best British Group gong, tonight’s latest intimate outing proves their worth as one of the country’s – nay, the world’s – very best pop groups.
The 1975 played:
Give Yourself A Try
Sincerity Is Scary
It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)
She Way Out
I Like America & America Likes Me
I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)
Love It If We Made It