With their latest album going to number one on both sides of the Atlantic, The 1975 are one of the biggest bands on the planet right now. The intimacy of seeing a band who have become so remarkably huge in a venue like the O2 Academy, a converted old cinema at the edge of the Gorbals, becomes all the more significant when you realise that they could have sold out the SSE Hydro Arena down the road once or twice over.
With a clear teenage demographic in the room, the fervour threatens to reach a One Direction level of hysteria when the four-piece take to the stage. Kicking things off with the irresistible guitar-funk of Love Me, the first single from the new album and a clear nod to Fame-era Bowie, the stage is swathed in neon pink and the party begins. This moves seamlessly into the RnB-tinged, rather off-beat UGH!, before old favourite Heart Out sparks a mass singalong.
In a two-hour set, The 1975 play a mix of songs from their old EPs, their self-titled debut, along with ten tracks from the new album, rather extravagantly entitled I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It. It may be considered a bold move, but with the new record proving such a success, the new material is accepted with as much familiarity and excitement as the old.
Sitting at 75 minutes in length, the second album is expansive, experimental, fun and, at times, a bizarre listen. This makes for an exciting set, which can change tempo with each song, from the upbeat glitziness of She’s American to the electro ballad Somebody Else to the gospel-influenced If I Believe You. This is accompanied by truly remarkable visual effects; surely some of the best to be seen in this venue. The monochrome imagery of before is replaced with neon pinks and sparkling rainbows, while rectangular blocks above the stage display bold lighting and onstage pillars show impressive cityscapes and shimmering pixels. Combine this with the numerous sax solos and funky guitar licks and the night is given a cool eighties vibe, without being at all cheesy.
Of course, the band would be nothing without the charismatic stage presence of Matty Healy. Often a very divisive character, Healy has all the qualities of the classic front man. He flounces and gyrates around the stage, sipping from a wine glass and bathing in the adoration around the room. A self-proclaimed narcissist, he can be hard to like at times, but his lyrics are a redeeming feature, often revealing a deep sense of self-awareness and irony; this guy doesn’t take himself too seriously.
His teenage fans hold onto his every word though, screaming when he moves around the stage or simply picks up his guitar. He even persuades them to put down their beloved phones during the melancholic Me so they can “enjoy the moment together”. Creating that sense of togetherness is something he’s good at, referring to the latest album’s success as a joint achievement. Of course, seeing the young crowd scream along to songs about drug addiction, infidelity, loneliness and mental instability is strange, but this is a band who mean a hell of a lot to people.
With only two albums of material, the lengthy two hour set starts to feel a tad overambitious towards the end of the night. However, we then receive an encore of epic proportions, finishing the night with a triple whammy: Chocolate, The Sound and Sex. The place goes wild as it becomes almost impossible to hear Healy’s vocals over the crowd’s voices.
Say what you like about the 1975, but this is a band who are willing to push the boundaries of modern pop music and it’s exciting to witness.