The 1975 juxtapose rebellious energy and protest music with romance and nostalgia at Camden’s BB&T Pavilion as they kick off a North American tour with an impressive live show.
A huge rectangle hangs on the stage at Camden, New Jersey’s BB&T Pavilion. What to most is one of the most elementary shapes, one you learn about as a toddler, tonight is imbued with a bigger, more riotous and passionate meaning. Rectangles have been The 1975’s chosen icon since the band’s inception, so fans look up adoringly to the huge box onstage as it stares back. It’s a presence rather than simply a shape or frivolous piece of stage decor, and it means that one of the best bands of the world is here.
The 1975 start their show the same way they start their albums: with a self-titled track called “The 1975”, whose lyrics are so wildly known by fans that they scream them out (amid other screams of excitement) when the lights go down and the words are projected on the screens. And as soon as the song is over, The 1975 take the stage and leap right into “People”, the frantic, punk lead single off their upcoming album Notes on a Conditional Form. Matty Healy, the band’s frontman, injects the song’s political lyrics with a passion that’s matched by the energy from the audience, who seems to know all the words to the new song already.
“Give Yourself a Try” and “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME”, offerings from A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, are welcomed and danced to as the arena is illuminated and coloured by the jaw-dropping projections. “Sincerity is Scary” brings about a fan-favourite moment as Healy puts on the rabbit hat he wore in the song’s music video (now a beloved piece of merch) and dances with twins Taitlyn and Kaylee Jaiy who have become a staple feature of The 1975’s live shows.
“If you know the lyrics to this one please sing along, because there’s a big chance I fucking don’t” Healy announces before the band starts to play “She Way Out”, a song off their self-titled debut album which is rarely, if ever, played live. The crowd, of course, is ecstatic and the projections turn black and white to reflect the band’s early aesthetic. “She Way Out” is followed by another older song, “A Change of Heart”, from sophomore record I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. It’s a moment of nostalgia for the fans which is followed by novelty as the unreleased, magnetic song “Depth” is played next.
“It’s hard to pick songs”, Healy announces, “so we play the favourites”. Clearly taking their fans’ desires into account, The 1975 play the early classic and infatuated “Robbers” and “fallingforyou” as well as ILIWYS favourite “Paris”. The romantic and rosy energy of these songs is immediately juxtaposed with the urgent “I Like America & America Likes Me” which, with lyrics like “I’m scared of dying” and “Kids don’t want rifles, they want Supreme”, speaks to the increasing anxiety of the younger generations post Brexit and Trump.
Armed with an acoustic guitar and a spotlight on Matty Healy, The 1975 sound like modern classics when they play “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)”, a song that promises to be a beloved anthem – and to their fans, already is. As great as The 1975 sound and look throughout the evening, the most powerful moment of the set is led by someone who’s not a part of the band.
“The 1975”, opening track of Notes on a Conditional Form, is played to usher in the encore, but this time the song’s traditional lyrics have been replaced by new words and a new voice. Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate change activist and first ever featured artist on a The 1975 album, is heard delivering a powerful speech about the effects of climate change on the human race and urging people to act. On the projections, the speech’s words are juxtaposed with stock images of nature and Healy sits onstage, back to the audience, watching it all unfold with attention and reverence.
It’s a beautiful and necessary choice on The 1975’s part to highlight the issue, and Thunberg’s words sound as meaningful and important as ever when projected throughout an arena to a mainly young audience whose future is dependent on the actions people decide to take now. The speech ends with a poignant and simple message: “It’s time to rebel”. Abiding to Thunberg’s call, The 1975 play “Love It If We Made It”, their most political and rebellious song to date.
Older hits “Chocolate”, “Sex”, and “The Sound” are chosen to close the night, and even though these songs have been heard and played thousands of times, they sound better than ever before, reinvigorated by a band who also seems to only get better release after release. As much as the night is a celebration of The 1975’s music, it’s impossible to leave The 1975’s show without realising that they’re a band whose legacy will transcend their music. As they grow bigger and fill increasingly larger venues, their music – and the message behind it – becomes even more poignant and necessary. The 1975, like few of their contemporaries, are a true amplifier of the voice of their generation, and their live show is the best translation of this. Rock’n’Roll is dead, God Bless The 1975.
?© Nicole Almeida