By: Curtis Sindrey –
It’s an understatement to say that beloved UK indie rock band The 1975 have a flair for the dramatic as the quartet stepped onto the stage at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena last night (Dec. 12th). The first thing fans heard as the Grammy nominated band took the stage was this eerie atmospheric loop that gave you an overwhelming sense that you were trapped in a gothic novel.
The stage design could best be described as a spacious living room that any Torontonian would be jealous of that was part broadway production and part 50s family sitcom. Filled with chairs, tables, couches, and far too many lamps, it gave off a very cozy vibe, and fit in nicely with the overall production.
Frontman Matty Healy, who for most of the night did his best Eddie Vedder impression as he sipped from a wine bottle, has a Hemingway-like energy where he can drink you under the table but will still tell you a fantastic story while doing it. He gave off an effortless James Dean-type charisma as he donned a leather jacket and later his signature black suit and white shirt combo.
For a good portion of the first half of the set, the songs held a strong 80s-inspired sound, especially on tracks like “Oh Caroline”, and “Happiness”, before it slowly turned into almost a one-man show as Healy slinked his way from one set piece to another; oftentimes lounging in a love seat, or playing guitar on a couch. This gave a unique opportunity for fans to see the band in a much more paired down setting compared to their far more elaborate stage designs from years past.
A few of the anchoring points Healy made during the 25-song set included how “you can be gregarious but still struggle a lot”, which serves as a recurring theme in the lyrics of several 1975 songs, and to not “let what you consume consume you,” which felt like a message that all of us could learn from.
Now came the destruction before the resurrection as men in white coats removed furniture from the set as Healy sang alone in almost a defeated manner as he went through an elaborate breakdown. This is where it got to a strong feeling of being almost a stage play where Healy sat on a couch puffing on a cigarette with his shirt unbuttoned and jacket disheveled as a dramatic score swelled as Healy metaphorically lost everything as he knelt in front of a wall of televisions. As everything collapsed around him, the TVs flashed images from a range of pop culture references including infamous right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro, and a brief flash from one of the Star Wars films, and Healy climbed into one of the televisions and eventually allowed what he consumes to consume him.
Cue the dramatic pause as Healy came back from the brink with his bandmates in toe dressed in all black (Johnny Cash would be proud) as they launched into the huge sound of “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”.
“At the heart of it, we’re a rock and roll band”, said Healy during the latter half of the set as they continued what was essentially a 12-song greatest hits set to round off the performance. Healy confirmed that the Toronto show was the “biggest show of the tour”, as he went on to cheekily note that, “biggest is best”.
But despite the so far good vibes, an awkward spot of the show was when Healy saw a female fan who happened to be jewish in the front row and proceeded to tell not one, but two jewish jokes that provided an awkward splatter of confused reactions throughout the crowd.
But despite that, Healy and co. rounded out their set in a strong manner as they took an audience vote to play either “A Change of Heart” or “Paris” as “Paris” won out with roaring crowd reportedly listed at 111 dB. Following this and a rousing performance of “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)”, the crowd began a singalong of Maroon 5’s “Payphone” as a fan gave Matty a Maroon 5 shirt.
Overall, The 1975 provided the drama and a thoroughly entertaining experience and proved that if you weren’t sold on their unique blend of electropop and cheeky UK indie rock before this show, you definitely were converted after.
The 1975 Set-List
1. The 1975 (Being Funny in a Foreign Language)
2. Looking for Somebody (to Love)
4. Part of the Band
5. Oh Caroline
6. I’m in Love With You
7. All I Need to Hear
10. I Like America & America Likes Me (‘Real World’ Version)
11. About You (with Carly Holt)
12. When We Are Together
13. Lonely This Christmas (Mud cover) (Matty only; live debut)
14. If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)
16. It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)
17. Paris (Audience vote over “A Change of Heart”)
19. Somebody Else
20. Chocolate (Ross’ request; not on printed setlist)
21. I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes) (Followed by a crowd singalong of Maroon 5’s “Payphone”, because a fan gave Matty a Maroon 5 shirt)
22. Love It If We Made It (Matty crowdsurfed during the final verse)
23. The Sound (Dedicated to Shawn Mendes, who was in attendance)
25. Give Yourself a Try
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