For some, The 1975 being overlooked at the Brit awards was as nonsensical as it was comprehensive. Despite their debut album peaking at number one, and BBC Radio 1 playing their single ‘Chocolate’ to death and the band shepherding a sizable hard-core fan-base, the Manchester-based four-piece didn’t receive a single nomination. For others, the Brits are no better or worse than any other ‘award’ and are utterly irrelevant anyway. Whichever way you view these gongs, they don’t really mean a whole lot when a band is standing in front of a crowd; so duly, the 1975 and their hook-laden indie pop are out to impress those who have taken notice.
Beginning the night with ‘The City’, the band maintain their post-XX aesthetic of moody, blacked out sparsity which doesn’t obviously go hand in hand with their sound. These songs are so catchy and, at times, joyful to hear, that the sight of Matt Healy lurking around the stage, bottle of wine in hand, between band-mates who are so far spaced apart in the half-light and seemingly oblivious to each other that they might as well be strangers, is unusual. But the crowd is effectively baying and the proceeding tales of youthful sex and travails of adolescent life fortify the band’s hidden, shady, stylistic front.
‘M.O.N.E.Y.’ and a delicate ‘So Far (It’s Alright)’ are simultaneously breezy and tight and George Daniel’s powerhouse drumming is audibly front and centre from here on in. The Olympia is absolutely packed and it’s a fair assumption that the band won’t be here again for some time. ‘She Way Out’, the warped rhythm of ‘Head. Cars. Bending’ will almost certainly be the soundtrack to somebody’s festival experience this year and this should mean a move to larger venues for the band. ‘Heart Out’ is so unmistakably 80’s power pop that it could accompany a montage of good times from Three Men and a Baby. It even has a sax solo. ‘Pressure’, while without a sax, has a devastatingly effective call and response between guitar and vocals and could just as easily be lifted from Boy Meets Girl or Miami Sound Machine. This isn’t a bad thing. The 1975 are incredibly tight as a band and regardless of how they look or how spacious they are this stuff is their bread and butter. Every one of their young years that they have played together has galvanized and lacquered them and anybody who has ever played in a band will agree that the effort that goes into making a song so breathless and airy as ‘fallingforyou’ sound so tight and compact is commendable. The starkness of the stage lighting and the look of the band themselves means that phones-in-the-air time has never looked so fitting.
‘Menswear’ and ‘Girls’ bring the set to a close, the absence of ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Sex’ fooling nobody. The encore brings the loudest reaction of the night, obviously… and provides Healy with a chance to shed his cloak of disaffected youth and kind of dance. He doesn’t spill a drop of his wine. The 1975 are a great live band and know how to write songs filled with all sorts of hooks and early contenders for one of State.ie’s coveted gigs of the year awards. And hopefully they’re ignored at next year’s Brit awards too, because, you know, awards are utterly irrelevant anyway.