The 1975 reach new hights at Leeds Arena

The 1975 -Leeds First Direct Arena – 17/02/20

Standing in the cold of a storm outside the First Direct Arena in Leeds it’s hard to think back to the summer of 2019. But for many if we try hard enough we would remember having our socks blown off by non-other than The 1975 themselves, as they headlined the main stage at Leeds Festival not so far away. It’s fair to say they really stepped up their game as the Manchester lads find their fanbase growing at an incredible rate worldwide, and headlining Reading & Leeds really was a milestone.

Many bands struggle to maintain this level of dominance in the music industry let alone improve on it, but over the past few months since that summers evening The 1975 have really grown so much more musically than we could have expected. With a new album set for release in the near future it’s with great anticipation the sold-out crowd await to hear some brand-new material live for the first time, on top of a standard knock out performance we expect so regularly now from The 1975.

The arena is lit glowingly from the towering screens surrounding the stage, blinding the crowd as they enthusiastically chatter amongst themselves before the light cuts out to complete darkness and deafening screams echo around the arena. The stage glows with yellow lights and smoke and out of nowhere the band emerge to the driven drum beat of ‘People’, as frontman Matty Heally grabs his microphone and starts screaming “WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP…” in the face of 13,000 excitable fans who literally couldn’t be more awake that very moment.  Just with those few words alone the room is bouncing with so much energy you instantly know this is going to be a night to remember.

Immediately following ‘People’ the usual set closer ‘Sex’ rings out on guitar leaving everyone singing out loud the lyrics to one of the bands most popular and oldest songs in their set. From here we’re thrown from one huge song to the next really proving their worth with so many hits under their belts. From the groovy ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’, to their 90’s pop like new track ‘Me & You Together Song’ we’re left gasping for air. They then dart into ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ featuring some interesting catwalk dancing from the frontman, as he strides along an autowalk hat and bag equipped looking like he’s slightly lost in an airport.

The next 13 songs of the set pack in some absolute fan favourites such as ‘It’s Not Worth Living (If It’s Not With You)’, ‘Love Me’, and the emotional ‘Robbers’, as well as plenty of new material to set our ears upon. ‘Guys’ is quite a chilled song to play live in comparison to everything else, and it’s a song that sounds like a love song to his band and fans alike as Matty sings “You guys are the best thing that ever happened to me”. It’s a relatively good song, but doesn’t sound half as impressive as new track ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ which really has hit single written all over it. It’s incredibly upbeat, catchy and fully equipped with a saxophone and dancers for that 80’s pop vibe, leaving a revolving dance floor as the only thing missing. It’s certainly a song to keep an eye out for when it drops in the near future!

It’s worth mentioning how incredibly thought through the visuals of the show were as well aside the live music. With visuals from music videos, TV screens, vibrant colour and even trippy patterns flooding into a boxed hole in the back screen which found the frontman clambering into with his guitar during ‘The Encounter’, everything pulled together to create a real jaw dropping performance from the Manchester quartet.

Before the encore takes place, Matty requests respect and silence for an important message in the form of the track ‘The 1975’ – a 4 minute 56 second interlude featuring an inspiring speech from Greta Thunberg on climate change. It’s an important message the band keep pushing upon their fanbase in each and every show, and hopefully it will serve its purpose in inspiring both younger and older fans to step up for change and start to make a difference.

‘Love It If We Made It’ promptly follows before we’re back in full swing for the infectious chorus of ‘Chocolate’ which raises the sound level of the room to the max once again. Following suit ‘Give Yourself a Try’ really gets the entire floor bouncing from front to back which looks incredible from the seats above as the frontman doesn’t need to give much to spark a lively reaction. The 23 track set finally comes to a close with ‘The Sound’ for a fitting ending to the night in full spirit.

This is The 1975 at their very best. A seamless performance all around both musically and visually which really cements them as one of the biggest pop rock bands to burst out of the UK in recent years.

Danny Peart
Editor / Live Music Photographer / Journalist at Soundcheck-Live

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