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2023/01/15 – The 1975 – Resorts World Arena, Birmingham

Review: G. Rossington – Photos: JCH.

After releasing their impeccable fifth album ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ last year, The 1975 finally embarked upon their ‘At Their Very Best’ UK Tour. On a cold Sunday night in January the atmosphere is electric mainly due to the fact that a couple of nights previous, Taylor Swift had made an impromptu appearance at the show and people tonight are expecting something similar, they were to be disappointed if that’s all they came for.

Having not read any reviews of the North American Tour prior to Christmas, it was difficult to know what to expect of this show. Initial thoughts would be that it would rely heavily on the latest album with a good smattering of hits thrown in for good measure. What was delivered was not far off the mark, but displayed in the most unique, curious and intricate way.

The night starts with a wonderful and calm set from youngster Bonnie Kemplay who was warmly received by the jubilant audience. Opening with ’19’ and ‘Winter’, she soon shakes off the nerves and powers through with a quiet confidence. ‘Checkers’ and ‘Was It Obvious?’ are great pop tunes, ‘Static’ shows off a great lyricist and the closing ‘Blushing’ brings the audience back in line and sets them up perfectly for the night ahead.

As soon as her band have left, a huge curtain falls from the rafters and The 1975’s logo is projected on to it from the mixing desk at the back of the room. After what feels like an eternity, eventually, the lights dim, the audience erupts and the traditional ‘The 1975 (Being Funny in a Foreign Language Version)‘ plays out over the P.A.

As the curtain falls, the stage is displaying a huge set reminiscent of something from Oasis’ 1997 ‘Be Here Now Tour’ crossed with ‘Big Brother’. The stage is split in to two layers that resemble a house. The back riser playing host to drums, a percussionist stand, a piano and a guitar. The front of the stage set up for guitars, bass, a piano and microphone. The “rooms” resemble a house, a living room, a study and a hallway. The giant video screens either side of the stage now giving off ‘The Truman Show’ vibes, announcing “The 1975 starring…” and one by one the band enters. Guitarist Adam Hann enters first and “switches on” the lights in each room. As he arrives at his spot, he walks over to switch on the light in the living room only for the crowd to erupt as frontman Matty Healy reveals to have been splayed out on the couch the whole time.

What follows is a show quite simply “at their very best” – the first two songs ‘Looking for Somebody (To Love)’ and ‘Happiness’ are quite simply baffling for anyone who has not embraced the new record or read any reports of previous dates. Healy seems dejected, sipping from both a full bottle of wine and a hip flask, smoking cigarettes flouting the smoking ban rules (I dread to think how much in fines he has had to pay for this World Tour so far) – After ‘I’m In Love With You’ however, those who haven’t been in on the joke are put out of their misery. He addresses the audience by snapping out of character and explains how this is all method acting. The stage set up, the dress codes, the drinking, it’s all a play. He snaps his fingers and everyone on stage freezes like Zack froze time in ‘Saved by the Bell’. A second click and people resume their activities.

They then perform a stripped back alt. country version of ‘Be My Mistake’ whilst out of character so that the room can join in and together we all feel as one. Then the method acting comes back for the remainder of the first half. The first set relying heavily on ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ but also interjected with a few previous album tracks. ‘Fallingforyou’ and ‘I Like America & America Likes Me’ sound

great, ‘Oh Caroline’ and ‘Part of the Band’ fitting in perfectly from the new batch of songs. ‘When We Are Together’ closes the first act in a comforting way. As ‘Consumption’ plays out across the P.A. Matty is doing press ups towards one of the TVs on stage and eventually climbs inside it signaling the end of the set. In rushes the stage hands to dismantle the props.

Within a few minutes the house structure is still intact but the stage looks more set up for a rock n’ roll show now. The band one by one return to the fore and begin jamming the intro to ‘If You’re Too Shy Let Me Know’. Matty bursts back on stage and leads the band through what feels like a completely revitalised and energetic show. ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’, ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not WIth You)’ and ‘Paris’ are huge sounding. ‘Somebody Else’ followed by ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ is heartbreakingly gorgeous, ‘Love It If We Made It’ is phenomenal also. But it’s the now decade old material from the debut record that bring out the joyous raucousness from the sold out arena. ‘Robbers’, ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Sex’ are literally built for the arena audiences.

‘The Sound’ gets the arena jumping and the closing song of the set ‘Give Yourself A Try’ could become one of those perfect full of energy set closers from now on. There is no encore tonight, the second act effectively filling those shoes, but they don’t need it. Yes they could have played another 10-12 tracks that would have pleased everyone in the room, but they didn’t need to. With the method acting in the first half and the sheer energy within the second, this really is a band at the top of their game and improving with every album. This literally was ‘The 1975: at their Very Best’.


Editor & Photographer. Eclectic music tastes and fan of a good beat. Can usually be found at a Gig across the Country or at a Festival in the Summer - More than likely with a camera surgically attached to me.