I arrived at Riverstage early on Saturday evening, as I had been made aware that a group of avid fans had camped out at Riverstage on Friday night, in anticipation for the show. I thought it would be a great opportunity to gain some insight into the fans processes before the show, and got to speak to a long-time fan, who had been at the gates since 11pm, Friday the 14th. You can check that out at the end!
Between the dedicated campers and the late comers there was one thing both groups had in common: The low-cut doc martens and tote bag combinations. It’s tumblr time, baby! The 1975’s long awaited Brisbane return…(not really THAT long waited, but it feels that way for die-hard 75 fans). The UK rockers have been touring Australia heavily since their debut and have made it part of their almost yearly routine to visit our slice of the world, since 2014. Now that we have our black slip dresses on and a cigarette between our fingers - let’s dance into the wonderfully chaotic world of The 1975.
The front of house music stopped, and the lights were low. The three stage screens flickered on to reveal the Riverstage green room and front man: Matty Healy. The screams erupted as Matty teased us with some nonsense gibberish, delivered in his classic chaotic style – the camera following behind him through the winding corridors, until he arrived onto the stage. We welcomed him lovingly with our beaming voices as he soared into a solo performance of ‘Be My Mistake’. It’s a bold opener and a perfect example of the relationship The 1975 has with their fan base. Not many bands are able to dive straight into a deep and slightly dark vulnerability that is an acoustic track that broaches the topic of guilt, and how that plays out within intimacy, straight off the bat. Instantly pulling on the audience’s heart strings with this emotional ballad, the already adoring crowd were warm putty in the Manchester singer’s palm. The power to open successfully with a stripped back ballad Infront of a soldout stadium show, is a giant power to wield and it was executed with humility and met with such devotion.
Following the moving solo, the scene for the ‘Being Funny in A Foreign Language’ tour emerged, as the stage lights lifted to reveal the two-tiered layout of a minimal living room concept. Just a lamp, an armchair and a couple house plants by an old record player. It was simple yet highly effective in tow with lighting direction and the narrative & movement of Matty’s performance. It felt almost theatrical, as if the band members were there, but not there and it was his characters time in the play to step forward and present his burning monologue. Matty wondered over to the seat, placed the needle onto the record player sitting by his chair, and after a few seconds of that record crackle we all know and love - the start of ‘Looking for Somebody’ commenced. The band were revealed by bigger booming lights as Matty picked up his bottle of liquor, lit a cigarette and his stage persona, (as he made clear – was something he only did on stage) materialised. After mocking himself and his onstage antics, he swigs from the bottle and we get our second new song, ‘Happiness’.
Banter and bluntness are two of Matty Healy’s strong points. I’ve been to several 1975 shows (since 2014), and between the upbeat nature of the music, the ramblings and audience interactions - they have n e v e r lacked interest or commentary. Following the new tracks, Matty spat ‘Nostalgia is a sickness – Stop yelling out old stuff’…before the bands popular track ‘UGH!’ rang through the outdoors stadium. This ignited a flurry of dancing, spurring synchronised moves from many groups scattered around the hill. One of the most enjoyable highlights for me, were the instrumental elements of this show. Their the set was enhanced by fantastic woodwind and percussion instrumentation, including saxophone and clarinet which added an 80s ballad infused dynamic to the performance. The addition of interwoven sax solos subtly aligned with the 1950s-esque nuances that were established with Matty’s white button up, record player, old jazz ‘projection’. Elements of Cheap Trick and Celine Dion were sprinkled softly throughout both new and old material, which added a fresh essence to the performance, and not something I had noticed the various other times I’ve watched The 1975 perform. They have continually developed their sound frequently evolving their material to match their current energy, which is refreshing and engaging, and makes them an act worth catching them every time.
After feeding the fans their ‘sick nostalgia’ (2014’s infamous ‘Robbers’) and a quick rant on ‘post covid crowd etiquette’ Matty insighted ‘if someone falls, pick them up, but give someone a f******* kick or something’. Somewhat disjointedly after that statement, the band Broke into a brief and unexpected cover of the Backstreet Boys ‘I want it that way’. Matty exclaimed ‘The 1975 are just a goth Backstreet Boys’ – Before immediately hurdling into 2016 hit ‘She’s American’ to many fans delight. The final ‘she’s so American’ fizzled out and the instrumentation paused. After thanking us for being at the show, Matty took this time to address the online ‘Ratty’ discourse/speculation that has been circling the fanbase for quite some time. Amongst The 1975 reddit and tiktok community – a widespread meme involving the front man Matty Healy bearing a strong resemblance to the 2006 animated film ‘Flushed Away’ Rat; Roddy. Matty broke his silence on ‘Ratty’ in which he initially pleaded; ‘I’m in my mid 30’s please don’t call me Ratty’ – ended up openly admitting that in-fact, he himself WAS the inspiration for Roddy’s character in the film. A writer on the film is the godfather to his mother…despite some nonbelievers – It looks like 1975 fans have their answer on ‘Rat Man’.
After the Flushed Away discourse, Matty hesitated into 2016 hit ‘Somebody else’ quietly announcing ‘I don’t really like this one’. Whether it be an uncomfortable topic or simply a least favourite, there was no further elaboration on his statement, and the crowd favourite track was one of the loudest moments of the show. It is hard keeping up with Matty sometimes, irony or pretentiousness, seriousness? Both? There’s something alluring about being in-between the veil of The 1975 and reality. It was at this moment; the theatrical undertones were shining through, and I was enjoying a musical performance as well as one of a left of pocket caricature.
Heading towards the end of the set, the band indulged us in a reworked version of ‘Paris’, track #15 on 2016’s ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’. Healy teased, ‘the real fans will know what my favourite 1975 song is’ before unveiling the reworked arrangement for acoustic guitar. It was at this point in the set where the crowd caught a glimpse of Matty out of character, enjoying performing the sentimental and complicated track, his genuine voice exploring the elements of longing, depression, and the complexities of romantic relationships. It was an exposed moment removed from the Matty we are accustomed to onstage that night, in-between the performative sips and drags. Healy presented his onstage rawness in a different light during ‘Paris’ which solidified his integrity and complexity as a front-man. During tonight’s performance in Brisbane, Healy’s magnetic pull and natural performing aura radiated around the open field, and we bore witness to the many angles of Matty Healy. Lucky to catch a glimpse at several, over this monumental and emotional setlist, we celebrated our love for this band and left in a certain state of euphoria. You can catch them on their New Zealand leg of this tour, starting April 19.
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Eloise, you camped out for the 1975 on Friday night. How long have you been a fan, and what drove you to staking out your space?
I have been a fan since 2013 when their first album came out, which makes it 10 years now! Every song from their discography has some special meaning to me, whether it’s connected to a memory or a moment from my adolescence and adulthood. It’s such a privilege to have a soundtrack to my life! I even met one of my closest friends (Anna) at their 2015 concert - stayed in contact over Tumblr (so 2010s of us!) and we’ve been to every one of the 1975’s concerts together since. Anna and I have always tried to be right up the front at their concerts, so that was the first motivation in staking out our space. We are no strangers to lining up early, but once we realised that there was a substantial line forming the night before the concert, we raced to Riverstage armed with a picnic blanket, a couple of cushions I grabbed from the lounge, and a few throw blankets at about 11 PM. There is just something so magical about being up the front, belting out your favourite lyrics and dancing along, so we didn’t want to miss out on that feeling with our all-time favourite band! It was the worst sleep of my life but being up the front will be so worth it - nothing comes close to concert euphoria!
It’s hard to put your finger on ‘the Matty Healy effect’ but in your own words, what is it about Matty that solicits this dedication?
I think it’s the absolute authenticity that he radiates. It makes us feel so much closer to our favourite artists when they are totally pure and unfiltered. He acts upon every single intrusive thought; runs around on stage like a total madman, goes on eccentric monologues, and genuinely connects with his fans through crowd interaction. He references fan discourse that pops up on social media during song breaks and - although it is usually at his detriment - and it makes the fanbase feel seen, heard, and appreciated. It’s a bizarre and intriguing kind of weirdness that perfectly scratches a part of our brain whenever he forgets to plug in his guitar and must get Hann to fix it, or yells at security in autotune, or gets tangled in his own microphone lead! These instances generate such a fascinating dichotomy between the perfectly produced songs of The 1975 that we’re so used to, compared to the utter state of him being a flawed human being - just like the rest of us. Such a stark contrast inherently humanises him as an artist, and makes us feel closer to him, as well as the band itself.
As a 1975 fan, do you have any expectations for the show, or are you expecting the unexpected tonight?
I’m hopeful we’ll get the state of organised chaos we’ve seen at the rest of the shows - rich with fan and crowd interaction and a stellar setlist. The 1975 shows are always such a treat and so different from any other band I’ve seen live. The band, their techs, and their team always do such a wonderful job to make sure the crowd has a memorable experience. Whatever we get, it will be an unforgettable concert.