Review: The 1975 – The SSE Arena, Belfast
Manchester-based band The 1975 kicked off the start of their 2019 tour last night in Belfast’s SSE Arena.
After support from label friends No Rome and Pale Waves, the four-piece took to the stage to ‘Give Yourself A Try,’ a single taken from their latest album ‘A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships,‘ which hit the top spot in the UK album charts last month (becoming the band’s third consecutive #1 album).
Lead singer Matty Healy didn’t take himself too seriously, a far cry from his ‘persona’ in the band, as he danced like your dad at a wedding in tracksuit bottoms to follow-up song ‘TooTimeTooTimeTooTime,’ accompanied by twin double acts who offered back-up dancing and vocals.
The simplistic set was made up of three giant revolving rectangles, which made it look like they’d caged the band in, and three light-up cubes which descended down from above their heads.
The screens behind the band shouted out imaged of ‘MFC,’ to support the band’s ‘Music For Cars‘ era. The era has brought this new album, as well as the one out in May, ‘Notes On A Conditional Form.’
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s me, it’s me,” Matt waved out, running around the stage, before breaking into ‘Love Me,’ a song from their sophomore album ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful, Yet So Unaware of It.’
He then stepped out onto a conveyor belt/treadmill type machine at the front of the stage, dressed in a hat, rucksack and headphones to a backdrop of New York City as ‘Sincerity Is Scary‘ was sang.
‘It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You‘ followed, with old school colour block infecting the screen, making it look like a Saved By The Bell episode.
Matty then finally addressed the audience: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming. It’s the first show of so many.” He pointed out faces in the crowd of people he recognised, before asking: “Has anyone saw me before?“
“We have missed you so much, we f****ing love you, Belfast,” he shouted before ‘Loving Someone‘ started, a crowd favourite as they all sang back.
Matty then stood on cherry-picker type lift, as it elevated him to about half way up the back screen. There, he was able to push through the static, white noise of the TV screen and find an alcove where he remained to sing ‘The Ballad Of Me And My Brain.’ The effects were outstanding, a long way away from their nights playing in Mandela Hall. The arena gives them the freedom to experiment with such ideas.
‘A Change Of Heart‘ followed, as he put on a comedy sketch of fighting for the audience’s attention, taking it away from the descending cube, before No Rome returned to the stage to feature in the rendition of ‘Narcissist.’
A special moment came when Matty and the crowd sang along to heartfelt song ‘Robbers,’ as he dedicated the song to them: “This will always be for you.” Matty also lit a fag on stage during ‘Fallingforyou,’ making some of the audience take a drag on their e-cigs, much to the dismay of the security staff.
‘Somebody Else‘ was a personal favourite, because it’s just a beautiful song, as he climbed back into the alcove to make a wall of mirrors effect.
“So, Brexit then?” He laughed with the audience, before ‘Girls‘ and ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes).’ “We’re getting into greatest hits territory now.”
The encore brought ‘Love It If We Made It,’ ‘Chocolate‘ and ‘The Sound.’ The latter had the signature negative comments like The Brit Award stunt on screen and had the whole arena bouncing after 4 as per the instructions on screen. “F***ing beautiful,” Matty laughed as the lights went off.
Finally, they bowed out with ‘Sex,’ making the audience leave still singing ‘she’s got a boyfriend anyway‘ under their breath.