The 1975 @ SSE Hydro, Glasgow, 12 Jan

The 1975 follow up their career-defining third album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, with an equally ambitious live show, and it's a complete spectacle

Live Review by Nadia Younes | 16 Jan 2019

Over the past six years, The 1975 have become something of a cultural phenomenon, ascending to global superstardom via three chart-topping albums, a Mercury Award nomination and a Brit Award win, and it’s easy to see why.

From the second they step on stage, it’s clear that the band – Matty Healy, George Daniel, Adam Hann and Ross MacDonald – are in a league of their own. Every track performed tonight is rapturously sung back to them word-for-word, as their largely teenage fanbase gush over their musical heroes, and with Healy’s sharp and timely lyrics largely promoting self-love, acceptance and inclusivity, it makes for a uniquely euphoric affair.

With the setlist consisting of an almost even spread of tracks from their most recent album, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, and its predecessor, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, the band’s progression both lyrically and sonically is evident. Scatterings of older tracks from their 2013 self-titled debut, and even a brief delve into their earlier EPs (Fallingforyou), show the band’s solid grasp of arena indie-pop, but it’s in their newer work where their idiosyncrasies really shine.

Give Yourself a Try urges self-belief, Sincerity Is Scary encourages emotional expression, and Love It If We Made It is an anthem of hope for disenfranchised youth, full of buzzword-style lyrics regarding recent social and political issues (‘Immigration / Liberal kitsch / Kneeling on a pitch’). It has to be said that while Healy is by no means the strongest vocalist, the depictions of youth culture and millenial existence in his lyrics are some of the most relevant observations being made by any artist around today, and the band have managed to craft a sound around it that is at once entirely current and completely their own.

The staging is the band’s most ambitious yet too. Incorporating dancers into their live show for the first time, they are joined on stage for the majority of tracks by the Jaiy Twins, and their visual show is nothing short of spectacular. The videos for recent singles Sincerity Is Scary and It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You) are mimicked in their live performance – the former set to the same backdrop, with Healy performing on a treadmill at the front of the stage. During the Auto-Tune heavy, anti-gun violence track I Like America & America Likes Me, flashes of the track’s lyrics are projected behind them (‘Kids don’t want rifles / They want Supreme’), with Healy repeatedly pleading ‘Would you please listen?’

If there’s any part of the band’s current live show that’s certain to change the opinion of any doubters, though, it’s the outstanding visual display accompanying I like it when you sleep centrepiece The Ballad of Me and My Brain. Healy performs the track while raised above Daniel’s drum kit, standing in a projection of an iPhone, before the visuals behind him begin flickering between images of algorithms, scribblings and drawings.

Massive pop hits, clever lyrics and ambitious visuals aside, what The 1975 have done in simply capturing the hearts and minds of young people in such uncertain times is not just commendable, it’s necessary.