The 1975 @ Oxford 02 Academy 24.09.13

After 10 years and several name changes, The 1975 have one chart topping album behind them and a headline UK tour to thrash it out live. Their black and white visual aesthetic tumbles from their album artwork and visual media into the live show. A white rectangle of strip lighting stands in centre stage, framing the drummer and adding its own visual flourishes to the 80s-gazing tracks surrounding it. The black and white lighting scheme is used creatively enough to avoid it being a prop for props sake. However, lead vocalist and guitar Matt Healy was chugging (slowly) on a bottle of red wine, when surely white wine should have been de rigueur.

Sep 24th, 2013 at Oxford O2 Academy / By Dave Reynolds
The 1975 @ Oxford 02 Academy  24.09.13 Saying that, the bottle of wine did feel like an unneeded rockstar prop. It gave the impression that Healy was trying to project a slightly weary and jaded persona onto the crowd (particularly while singing vocals on ‘Is There Someone Who Can Watch You’), but with the volume of excellent tracks littered across their set, it’s not necessarily needed. The lead singer of the final support act, Night Engine, was busy projecting his jerky and outlandish persona across when performing, but it felt like it was something to hide the fact that their music wasn’t enough in itself to captivate. Ultimately, Matt Healy only drank a glass-worth of wine before giving the bottle away to a (hopefully 18+) fan. Of course, having an actual glass of wine on stage instead of a whole bottle would look more Dylan Moran/Bernard Black than front man of pop-rock band The 1975.

A debut LP with 19 tracks in addition to several EPs meant that, the show never felt like it was taking a moment of respite. Opening with ‘The City’ and ‘M.O.N.E.Y.’, the crowd were quick to connect to the show. Mid-set brings some huge reactions to album tracks such as ‘Girls’ and ‘Settle Down’. This reflects the depth of the album, but the live performance is polished and precise, something that’s likely helped by 10 years of being a band.

A dip into EP tracks ‘It’s Alright’ and ‘Head.Cars.Bending’ keeps things moving, but there’s a minor nagging feeling that starts to seep in. Beyond a few little extra fills from the drummer, there’s no expansion on the original structure of the songs. While it’s easy to admire the craft of the original writing, sometimes you want a little extra creativity in the live show.

Radio monster ‘Chocolate’ closes out the main set before the opening guitars on ‘Sex’ kicks off the encore in a blaze of white light. It’s a slick show that brings their music to colourful life, even in bursts of black and white.