Progressive, proactive and doing things their own way, tonight sees The 1975 return to London’s O2 with a very different show to the pristine and soulful stand they made here at the end of 2016.
But then ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ is a very different record to what’s come before. That first album grabbed attention. Their second grabbed headlines and acclaim while this one has wrapped itself firmly around hearts, minds and imagination. Tonight it feels like anything is possible.
As ‘Love Theme’ disintegrates into ‘The 1975’, the band take the stage and tear into the rugged screech of ‘Give Yourself A Try’. It’s chaotic, raw and triumphant before the dance-routine bop of ‘TooTimeTooTimeTooTime’ spins through colour and joy. The shimmering romp of ‘She’s American’ quickly follows, new shades and new shapes making themselves at home in the ever-shifting space.
The world of The 1975 doesn’t begin and end with the band though. Dirty Hit labelmates No Rome open the show, a fizzing blend of pop velocity and rock star confidence that really comes into focus when he joins The 1975 later in the night for ‘Narcissist’.
Next up, Pale Waves’ gargantuan and gothic pop songs are custom built for rooms of this size. Hand on heart and eyes wide open, they flicker with brilliance before turning inwards, sharing secrets and standing apart.
At times The 1975 are on the brink of falling apart. There’s a god-like reverence to the visuals of a giant phone screen that opens up and allows Matty to walk inside, before he falls to his knees. Trapped in a box, ‘The Ballad Of Me And My Brain’ rages with a claustrophobic uncertainty. ‘How To Draw/Petrichor’ starts with serenity but quickly crumbles into a cyclical, glitching breakdown while even autotune can’t hide the anger of ‘I Like America and America Likes Me’. Scared of dying, holding onto belief and fed up of being ignored, it promises it’s fine but it’s a terrible liar.
Other times, The 1975 are the most perfect pop band in the world. It’s impossible to argue with songs like ‘Love Me’, Sincerity Is Scary’ or ‘Girls’. ‘Loving Someone’ sees a field of rainbows caught in phone screens, ‘Robbers’ finds tears onstage and off and the band are always first to embrace the absurdity of it all. Matty is the pointed end of The 1975’s vision. Catching roses, sharing meme t-shirts with the rest of the room and basking in the spotlight before bridging the distance between stage and audience, The 1975 are his favourite band and there’s not a single moment of tonight where you wouldn’t believe it.
But still, that idea of destruction is never far away. ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ wrestles with it, bathed in a white light while the apology before ‘URGH!’ tumbles with the unknown. “Forgive us for playing a slightly longer set than advertised, we don’t know when we’ll get to do this again.”
It makes ‘Love It If We Made It’ so much more powerful. Reflecting the world outside going up in flames and eating itself alive, it’s buoyant, persistent and finds a light in the dark. Speaking about hope, even for a few minutes, feels victorious and the following greatest hits parade of ‘Chocolate’, ‘The Sound’ and ‘Sex’ underlines and amplifies the voice of the community that’s come together under one roof tonight.
“Rock & Roll is Dead,” promises the video screens at The O2. “God Bless The 1975,” cos they’re refusing to kneel.