Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Review: Birmingham plays host to The 1975’s biggest show to date

  • The 1975 embarked on their biggest ever UK tour, including a date at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena on Tuesday March 22nd, 2016
  • Bubblegum pink lighting backdropped the band’s arrival, with ‘Love Me’ from their latest LP providing the soundtrack
  • Support on the night came from the ambient Amber Bain and her band, otherwise known as The Japanese House

Excitement bubbled through the Barclaycard Arena as it filled with an anticipated crowd eagerly awaiting The 1975’s biggest headline show to date.

The Japanese House

The Japanese House arrived to build the atmosphere with music which is somewhat reminiscent of the weather; beautiful days, with showers and heavy storms. The crowd absorbed the artistic audible landsape painted before them and swayed to the sounds. The alternative sounds were ambient, creating a zen and calming the fizzy teenage crowd.

The Japanese House

The climbing tunes and crashing crescendos washed over the crowds as noise built up in sync with the crowds hunger for The 1975. A fairly big step up from their recent Sunflower Lounge headline show, but a well-deserved one.

The 1975

A slight pause preceded light fall, building white noice and a sudden burst of bubblegum pink lighting which revealed the band. The UK’s second city welcomed The 1975, fronted by Matt Healy, with a wild applause and relentless screams which could still be heard over the opening riffs of ‘Love Me’. The band revealed themselves through an exquisite stage set up. The set design and lighting could only be described as second to none, capturing the bands aesthetic to a tee.

Their opening performance was closely followed by ‘Ugh!’ from latest album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. The Birmingham arena show certainly provided the right capacity and acoustics for an album such as this. Stepping it up a notch from their O2 Academy gigs of 2014, The 1975 gave a punchy, powerful and hyperactive performance, reminiscent of ’80s pop. Their reasons for their ever-increasing popularity were clear from the get go.

The 1975

Adoring fans lapped up their old material, in awe of Healy’s presence, the arena was catapulted back to the band’s earlier days of monochrome with their third song ‘Heart Out’. Saxophonist John Waugh presented a stunning sax solo enveloping the crowd as Healy too appeared to lose himself in the melodies. Despite the drop in tempo, Healy’s loose swag and rockstar form encourages the swarms. Glass of red wine in hand, Healy engaged in conversation with the 16,000 capacity arena to encourage them, which need not have been done- he had full control of the masses.

‘She’s American’, laced with a taste of their older sound, was well received. It demonstrated the huge musical advance whilst still suggesting a consistent flavour through their repertoire.


The 1975 paid a visit to older EP tracks such as ‘Anobrain’ which divided the set nicely. The crowds constantly reverberated the lyrics, whilst Healy gave a theatrical performance through the sets entirety. ‘Me’ was presented to the crowd in a mesmeric and captivating style, a night sky of illuminated phones littered the venue as the audience remained under the bands full control.

Matt Healy and the band paid a touching tribute to Brussels following recent unfortunate incidents ahead of ‘Paris’ which they also dedicated.

The 1975

‘Loving Someone’ spoilt fans, with the individual electronic backing and signature seamless sound, it is questionable as to why this was never released as a single prior to their second album. The 1975 have an unrivalled edge, which could not be imitated, their sound is busy and constant yet flawless and intricate which makes for stunning recordings and fierce live shows. This quirk to their electro-fused instrumentals left the audience awe-struck during the instrumental of ‘Menswear’.

The 1975

Despite providing a live illustration of tracks from their most recently released album, The 1975 were generous with their flavourings over older and much loved favourites. These tracks sealed the crowds as one and raised the roof of the arena. Treating adoring crowds to ‘Chocolate’ the sardine-tight, standing rabble erupted in a frenzy which continued for as long as the night. ‘The Sound’ and ‘Sex’ closely followed with yet more amazing graphics and lighting displays. The unique sound, showmanship and stunning stage design made for a spectacular display of live entertainment at its’ peak. Without question, The 1975 will continue to reign in the hearts of all attendees who can only dream of what the band can rustle up for next time.

Photographs by Jonathan Morgan