Musical Theatre Tragedy & Hometown Glory, The 1975 are the perfect example of how a band can be bigger than the four members within itself.

Excitement has been buzzing around this very group for over a decade: it’s no wonder the most dedicated fans started queueing 48 hours before to catch a glimpse of the band. From the band’s self-titled debut which gave us the instantly recognisable ‘Chocolate’, to their controversial-among-fans experimental fourth album ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’, The 1975 have truly reached their Renaissance in 2022 – appealing to a new, younger audience while still holding the attention and capturing the hearts of their oldest fans. The release of their 5th studio album earlier this year, aptly named ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’, has already led to the band receiving critical acclaim – it was announced just last week that they had been nominated for 3 BRIT Awards, including Best British Group.

So what? They’re a great group, right? What makes them, or their shows, so special?

Well, in summary, The 1975’s At Their Very Best tour is shaping a new era of live music, which defines their live musical performance as a show, not just a ‘gig’. A fusion of theatre and live music, but more than just musical theatre. Manchester’s AO Arena erupted into screams as soon as the curtains dropped to reveal their spotlight-shone logo, akin to Batman’s call in the skies of Gotham, in typical melodramatic fashion.

The audience painted a picture of a city bursting with pride for one of their greatest musical prodigies of the 21st century, joining a long list of great British bands including The Smiths, Oasis and Blur. Fans of all ages and genders gathered to support one of their own, no surprise with their extensive, timeless discography.

However, I cannot talk about everyone in attendance without addressing the sea of badly creased white shirts, loose black ties, oversized leather jackets and Dr Martens. The uniform of The 1975 fans cosplaying as frontman Matty Healy the band’s very own provocateur and messiah (to paraphrase his mother and loose woman Denise Welch), as far as the eye can see.

Eating raw meat, touching himself, doing push-ups in front of multiple TV screens picturing Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak and Andrew Tate and then crawling into the screen itself – Matty Healy truly plays to the egotistic, self-indulgent provocateur frontman image, likened by some to Morrisey. The true modern-day villain, completely insufferable. And millions, including myself, cannot get enough of him. In the first half of the show, Healy portrays a lost soul swooning over a bottle of wine and cigarettes, home alone indulging in the theatrics of performing within your own house. Gazing forlornly out of a window during ‘All I Need To Hear’? Very ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ of him. An acapella rendition of Nat King Cole’s ‘Smile’? Someone’s watched Joker too many times.

However, the band’s larger-than-life frontman was not the only star of the show. Guitarist Adam Hann’s wife Carly made a special appearance to reprise her part in fan favourite ballad ‘About You’, a song which the band admitted parallels an early fan favourite ‘Robbers’, taken from their first album. Manchester was also treated to a very special guest appearance in the form of drummer George Daniel’s other half Charlotte Emma Aitchison, more commonly known as the Avant-pop queen Charli XCX, calling for the “gays” before performing her hit ‘Vroom Vroom’ to a screaming, euphoric audience. It really was the night for the band’s girls.

A mention has to also go to the band’s long-time Sax player John Waugh for his incredible solo in ‘Happiness’ and the band’s incredible support act Bonnie Kemplay. An incredible new talent on the scene, her ethereal grunge feminist angst filled with sincere vulnerability brought something refreshing to the arena. Shoegaze-y “Blushing” is one to watch – evidence of a woman who benefits from being young and impressionable, allowing for her to create a more honest depiction of love within her art. Incredibly well versed in performance too, at a level you would see of a well-seasoned performing act. The next princess of sad girl music at Dirty Hit, watch out Beabadoobee!

On a final note, Healy reflected during the night on ‘how special it [was]’ for the band to be playing Manchester, however, it was the band that gave the city a special night in return. A showstopping homecoming for one of the greatest bands of this century.

Words: Daisy Kent @daisylkent
Pictures: Jordan Curtis Hughes