Live Music Review - The 1975 - Brighton Concorde 2 - 28/09/2013
The music industry is a cruel mistress. One minute you are the hottest thing since Hot Chip and the next you are fighting it out with The Pigeon Detectives to get a gig at the Butlins Indie Weekender.
The chart's transitory nature guarantees a never-ending quest for the next big thing. Right now the current NME darlings are The 1975, a Manchester 4-piece with a strong aroma of the 80's that permeates their music like a musky Drakkar Noir.
They have been championed by Zane Lowe, recently sold out The Bowery in New York and in a recent poll of Radio 1 listeners their single Chocolate was voted as the best single in the last 5 years. It would be churlish to compare regular Radio 1 listeners to goldfish so lets just say the buzz this band are generating is huge.
This furore is not lost on the fans who have come tonight judging by the chatter outside the venue. There is a reasonable cross section: some of them old enough to remember the 80's the first time around but mostly those who have been dropped off by their parents.
All are aware that we they might not be seeing The 1975 in such close proximity if their star continues its ascent. Front man Matt Healy comes out to a sea of camera phones and the pounding drums of opener The City. Silhouetted by the back and white neon image of their album cover his grown out Mohawk, stoner chic and skinny frame make him look like a young Jim Bob from Carter USM.
The 1975 have a knack of drilling home a phrase or a melody so it becomes ingrained in your psyche. The City overlays an incessant synth throb with Adam Hann's metronomic guitar loops to a repeated chorus of
"If you wanna find love you know where the city is"
Its life-affirming stuff.
M.O.N.E.Y.'s irregular rhythms, percussion and programmed beats make it sound like an unreleased Talking Heads track. Sonically it's interesting but the lack of a chorus lets it down. Talk! ups the anty with its funky riffs and anthemic refrain of "Why do you talk so loud?". The irony is lost on the couple in front of me who decide to shout to each above the music for the duration of song.
Head.Cars.Bending is not from the debut album but from the Music for Cars EP and plays out like a rockier version of Little Red Corvette using a similar chord progression as its template.
The 1975 do use synths and electronica to great effect do give their songs added dimension, although live the sound is slightly paired back. In many ways Heart Out distils the essence of The 1975 in one track. Lyrics such as
"Obsessions with rocks and brown and f*cking the whole town"
marry the bands twin preoccupations of sex and drugs perfectly. Throw in a bass line that borrows the staccato intro from Robert Tepper's No Easy Way Out, a dash of Buggles and a synth sax solo and they couldn't make it more 80's if they made it wear shoulder pads and carry a Filofax.
Its about this time of the evening where Healy complains about the heat and gets his shirt off and a waft of oestrogen temporally suffocates the room. Such is his effect on the ladies its only right that the bubblegum pop of Girls gets an airing. My favourite song on the album it sunny riff recalls the Pointer Sisters. If they were to remake Beverly Hills Cop you would find this on the soundtrack.
Matt then unleashes the one song bulldozer of Chocolate. Its as sweet a pop overload as the name suggests (although its another song about drugs)and is the main reason why the band are making waves. Tonight it has grown men screaming out its nursery rhyme chorus.
"Thank you for making this number one Brighton"
If the men get vocal the song literally has girls climbing the walls as one brave trio attempt and impromptu pole dance on the foot wide shelf at the side of the stage. Security quickly ushers them down but not before Healy as had chance to serenade them before leaving the stage.
The devotees know the band have one bullet left in the chamber and shout them back out for an encore. "We Want Sex!" is chanted in unison before the group return for their encore in an explosion of strobe and the thrashing guitars of Sex
"Seen you soon...and if I don't see you have a good life"
The 1975's tick all the right boxes. They show invention, variety and can deliver live. Yet despite all these positives why do I feel that something is missing? They only thing I can think of are that band lack a degree of soul. Both in delivery and in content, their music can sound detached and artificial like some musically proficient 6th formers singing about their nights out on the town.
If they want to be a truly great band they need to connect with their audience on a deeper level. This I hope will come with time. People will always listen harder if they think you have something worthwhile to say.