April 13, 2014

A Royal Welcome to The 1975

The Royal Albert Hall
             Perhaps I spoke too soon. In the last post I published on The 1975 (read it here), I sang their praises, but was also adamant about not watching them live again, not least because of the rowdy, raucous crowd. However, I went back for more, unable to resist the one-off show at the Royal Albert Hall on April 6th. Purchasing tickets was in itself a much more complicated process than I had previously experienced. As soon as the tickets went on sale at 9a.m. one December morning, I watched incredulously as they sold out left, right, and center. I scrambled, clicking aggressively at whatever options were left available. The 1975’s fans don’t mess around, myself included, and victory was mine!

             I would soon become aware that The 1975 had in fact sold out (no surprise there) the Royal Albert Hall with its capacity of over 5,000 people. The venue was a truly historical beauty, and with seat numbers assigned to us, I was hoping that the venue would be much more structured to contain the “fan girls” this time. However, they seem to follow wherever lead singer Matthew Healy is concerned.

             Marika Hackman donned the stage to warm up the audience, but she sang and strummed to distracted spectators and empty seats reserved for ticketholders only interested in arriving for the main attraction. Hackman’s wistful voice and unassuming stage presence were sweet and soulful, but I did find myself becoming slightly restless. With a tough crowd to please, neither Hackman nor any other act could have entertained The 1975’s fans, especially when we knew what we were in for, or so we thought.

             The 1975 and the Royal Albert Hall were a match made in heaven. Smoke rolled on stage in waves, and like a military unit, we all stood at attention. In unison, our eyes were directed towards the stage in adoration as Adam Hann, George Daniel, and Ross MacDonald marched on stage. The anticipation built until Healy burst on the scene, toting what appeared to be a wine bottle.

             The crowd went wild and The 1975’s band members were as charismatic as they have ever been. Hearing one of my favorite songs live for the first time, “Me,” which is apparently a rare occurrence, had me honestly fighting back tears. A chilling saxophone-driven and lyrically self-deprecating ballad, the moment was unadulterated magic.

             The 1975 churned out gold as they wove together songs such as “Menswear,” a synth-infused finger snapper and “M.O.N.E.Y.,” which borders on talk singing. Songs like “So Far (It’s Alright)” were pleasant surprises in the mix alongside “Hnscc” and “An Encounter,” both instrumental and electronic soundscapes that were devoid of Healy’s silky vocals. Having personally never heard many of these performed live before, I found their incorporation electrifying.   

             As his figure dropped out of view for the rest of us, Healy knelt down and sang his "favorite song,” “fallingforyou,” directly to one very lucky lady in the front row. As he crooned, “I don’t wanna be your friend, I wanna kiss you neck,” he saw to it that the whole audience was falling for him. Cries of “I love you” echoed via the Royal Albert Hall’s powerful acoustics and Healy responded that he loved us too in that cheeky way of his. All the while, the whole arena ignited with the swaying lights from iPhones, paying respects to the long tradition of flickering lighters. Healy was very noticeably moved by this and screamed defiantly for everyone who thought The 1975 couldn’t make it as a band to look at them now.

             Healy next implored us to sit down and be quiet while he singularly took to the piano for the sentimental, emotion stirring “Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You.” Twice during the performance, Healy took his head in his hands as he hunched over in tears, managing to muster the words, “I’m sorry – this song…” I felt that this was an intimate soul-baring moment and one not often shared, or easily forgotten. Healy’s dedication to his art form was exemplified in his vulnerability, singing about leaving home and ensuring that someone was there to look after his younger brother.

             Five giant rectangles presided over The 1975 in alternating sparks, colors, and patterns, a unique show element that has become synonymous with the band. As Healy paraded around the stage, the rectangles seemed to perfectly frame him, capturing him in his element. I belted out every tune, as if stretching my voice to be heard over the thousands, and danced in my sanctioned area with reckless abandon. The seats did come in handy after all, because although everyone took to standing, we all resided in our personal territory.

             The 1975 ended by delivering “Robbers,” “Sex,” and “Chocolate” for their encore. Healy videoed and photographed us as the crowd and the four band members put their arms around each other, silhouettes proudly standing tall with those same rectangles beaming in the background.

             Fade out.

             Follow The 1975's rather miraculous journey by revisiting my previous posts of their gigs at The Borderline (read it here) and Heaven (read it here). For more from The 1975, including tour dates, view their official website here. See what else is on at the Royal Albert Hall here

             [Author’s Note: I lost my voice for two days following the concert. Was it worth it? Absolutely.]

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