The 1975 live in New York City: a raw and raucous night at the Garden

Manhattan, New York, November 7: The British band host an unforgettable and cathartic night at Madison Square Garden

“I’m sorry if you came with your dad and I was touching my dick,” Matty Healy laughs halfway through The 1975‘s New York City set. “It’s your fault for bringing your dad.” Not long before this comment, the frontman is sat on a couch touching himself with one hand and balancing a cigarette with the other. He then kneels down on the stage, picks up what appears to be a piece of raw, bloody steak and unceremoniously takes a bite into it before crawling into a television screen. Is it a metaphor for the dangers of consumerism? A boundary-pushing merging of live art and music? Before the audience can answer those questions and make sense of the staggering moment, the music kicks in again.

Theatrics are to be expected on a tour ambitiously titled ‘At Their Very Best’ tour, which is evident right at the start of the set as a huge curtain drops revealing that the English band has built a larger-than-life two-tiered house right in the middle of Madison Square Garden. In between songs Healy, Adam Hann, Ross MacDonald, and George Daniel turn on lamps, switch off lights, and walk around their transient home, adding comforting minutiae to a set that’s anything but subtle.

The 1975
The 1975 CREDIT: Jordan Curtis Hughes

The constant movement, chain-smoking, sips from a flask, and unprompted comments on the state of things (“If I was Kanye, I wouldn’t of said any of that stuff,” Healy tells the crowd at one point) could be distracting if it were any other band’s set. But this is The 1975, and they can get away with it all because the songs are too damn good to be overshadowed.

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The first half of the set sees the band presenting almost all tracks from their latest offering, ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’, and with the Garden as a backdrop coupled with the energy of fans hanging on to Healy’s every word (“It’s called crowd work” he explains) heard live, each song takes on a new life.

The evening officially starts with the opening keys of ‘The 1975 (Being Funny in a Foreign Language)’ leaving the piano and slowly surging upwards, hitting everyone from the front row to the nose bleeds, while the apologetic lyrics, I’m sorry if you’re livin’ and you’re seventeen”, circle the venue like a mantra. Once ‘Looking For Somebody (To Love)’, kicks in next, with the band’s showmanship in full effect, and the frontman hurling around his guitar as he hops off and on an ottoman bed, the sold-out arena takes on the energy of a raucous house party.

The 1975
The 1975 CREDIT: Jordan Curtis Hughes

It’s rare that band’s latest songs hit as hard as the worn-in songs fans have been listening to for years, but The 1975 transition from their fifth album, into the ‘Greatest Hits’ portion of their set with ease. And in an age where many artists play through a set without no stops for lyrical exploration, Healy’s on-stage liner notes are appreciated. Before the slow-burning ‘fallingforyou’, he tells fans, “this house is based on the next song”; before ‘Love It If We Made It’, he acknowledges that “the point of the next song was not to have to play it”; later in anticipation ‘Somebody Else’, he tells the audience, ‘This is a sad song, but I’m fucking over it.”

“You know the thing with us?” Healy says somewhere between performing 1975 classics, ‘The Sound’ and ‘Sex’, “we just keep getting better, baby.” Bravado aside, there’s still a note of awe in the band’s presence on stage. “Fuck, Madison Square Garden, look at us? How fucking sick are we?” the frontman says with a laugh towards the end of the set, as if the realisation of the magnitude of the moment has just hit him.

Following a celebratory performance of ‘Give Yourself A Try’, as The 1975 sends fans back into the streets of Manhattan, with a closing note that “we are hammered, and I don’t know how long we can sustain it,” there are a surprising amount of tears and puffy eyes mixed with grins on the faces of those leaving. There’s a sense of relief in the air. Perhaps it’s the cathartic release that could be blamed on the sincere stage banter, Healy’s voice breaking during ‘I Love It If We Made It’, or the therapeutic after-effects of dancing joyously to sad songs.

It’s the kind of night that only The 1975 could host, the type of evening that leaves you buzzing and remembering why you love live music in the first place, walking home and thinking aloud, as one fan did before heading towards the subway: “I didn’t know how much I needed that.”

The 1975
The 1975 CREDIT: Jordan Curtis Hughes

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The 1975 played:

‘The 1975 (Being Funny in a Foreign Language)’
‘Looking for Somebody (To Love)’
‘Happiness’
‘Part Of The Band’
‘Oh Caroline’
‘I’m in Love With You’
‘All I Need to Hear’
‘Roadkill’
‘fallingforyou’
‘I Like America & America Likes Me’
‘About You’
‘When We Are Together’
‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’
‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’
‘Me & You Together Song’
‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’
”Paris’
‘An Encounter’
‘Robbers’
‘Somebody Else’
‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’
‘Love It If We Made It’
‘The Sound’
‘Sex’
‘Give Yourself a Try’

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