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  • Jonnica Hill

The 1975 Are Indeed Still… At Their Very Best

Last week The 1975 brought the “Still… At Their Very Best” tour to London, Ontario’s Budweiser Gardens.

The English pop-rock band embarked on an 18-stop North American tour at the beginning of the month and played in Montreal and Toronto before landing in Canada’s UNESCO City of Music, London. Yep, you heard that right! 

Like many others, I’m sure, I was surprised to see London, Ontario named on the tour announcement, but it seems to be popping up more and more lately. Artists like Dermot Kennedy and Noah Kahan have also booked shows at the Gardens - which is great news considering Canada often only gets one or two shows from international artists.

After missing out on the band’s Toronto stop during last year’s “At Their Very Best” tour, I couldn’t resist seeing one of my all-time favourites “live in show and concert” at a slightly smaller venue in support of their fifth studio album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language (2022). 

Despite the band’s recent virality on TikTok, or perhaps more so that of controversial frontman Matty Healy, they are no newcomers to the industry. After forming as teenagers in 2002, Matty Healy, Adam Hann, George Daniel and Ross MacDonald officially began releasing music as The 1975 in 2012. The group quickly gained critical and commercial success following their debut album, The 1975 (2013), and sophomore album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It (2016).

Since their formation, The 1975 has released five studio albums, won the Brit Award for British Group twice, reached more than 13 million monthly listeners on Spotify and travelled the world on five headlining tours. Having seen them in concert on two other occasions, I was familiar with the nature of The 1975’s live shows, but still very curious to discover what “Still…at Their Very Best” was all about.

The evening began with a moody & quirky set from opener Dora Jar. The California-raised bedroom pop artist who previously opened for Billie Eilish during “Happier Than Ever, The World Tour” in 2022, graced the stage with adorable, balloon-like pants a trio of musicians. Her sweet vocals, mixed with inquisitive lyrics and indie pop-rock stylings fit together beautifully, surely delighting fans of Samia and Remi Wolf.

Throughout the set, Jar fully occupied the stage - jumping up on amps, kicking her leg up and crawling over a fellow bandmate. Between songs, the bubbly artist spoke candidly to the growing crowd, explaining the Hawaii-shaped scab that inspired “Scab Song” and expressing love for Canada - earning much affection from the room.

While many in the audience confessed to not knowing who she was through cheers when Jar asked, the crowd seemed more than happy to bop along to an eclectic mix of dreamy, grungy indie pop jams. Standout songs included “Multiply,” “Lagoon” and her latest single “Puppet,” which closed the set out on a high-energy note just in time for the headliners to take the stage.

After a quick break, classical music set the scene as a spotlight revealed The 1975’s name on the curtain. Once the house lights dimmed and the curtain was whisked away, the arena erupted in excitement and the homey stage set up came into view.

Behind the curtain, the stage had become a lived-in home, complete with leather couches, retro televisions, wall-less windows and doors, a spiral staircase to nowhere and just a corner of a roof. A neon sign flickered to life, boldly stating “still… at their very best.”

Welcomed by screams, cheer and applause, frontman Matty Healy casually made his way through the door, preceded by the sound of a car arriving and footsteps on gravel. The show’s opening was portrayed like a sitcom or late-night show - with a handheld camera and introduction to the cast list of musicians on stage. The “show” portion of the evening was officially underway, kicked off by the latest version of their self-titled signature album opening, “The 1975.”

The first half of the show was focused most on the group’s newest album, including lead single “Part Of The Band,” fan favourite “About You,” and my most-streamed song of the year “Oh Caroline.”

Some old favourites also got a chance to shine, like “Sincerity Is Scary,” “A Change of Heart,” and “Robbers,” whose first four notes were met with unanimous excitement and can “sum up our band,” according to Healy.

Throughout the set, the band truly made themselves at home, roaming around the stage-turned-living room, casually sitting on couches and watching the TVs. Healy even took breaks from signing to smoke cigarettes and sip from a glass, flask and bottle. As for what was in the containers, I can’t be certain…

In a brief moment of panic, hoping the show was not over already, I was surprised when a second stage directly behind the sound booth revealed itself. Laying atop green grass, naked and in the fetal position, was none other than Matty Healy - well fake Matty Healy. The real singer appeared, checked on his unconscious mannequin twin and then seemed to pray to or beg someone above before the body was lowered below the stage. 

With the body replaced by a mic stand and acoustic guitar, Healy performed the heartfelt, “Be My Mistake” solo before also disappearing into the B stage. I later discovered that this section of the show was titled, “Matty’s Nightmare.”

Before the lead singer returned to the main stage, fans were treated to a rendition of “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America” by Polly Molly, one of the band’s touring musicians. Her beautifully sweet voice, reminiscent of Phoebe Bridgers who features on the recording, gave the track a slightly more hopeful and joyous tone.

Once Matty returned from his nightmare, the stage had been transformed. Various TVs had been collected and stacked together while most of the other home-like clutter was cleared away, making room for more dancing and moving about for the “concert” section of the night. Pulling from all eras of their catalogue, this part of the show was perfect for the dance and sing-a-long atmosphere I’ve typically experienced at The 1975’s shows. 

Songs like “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know),” “Heart Out,” and “Somebody Else,” have undeniable dance-ability, yet showcase Healy’s deep musings on relationships. Even with a mysterious “we’ll be back in two minutes” break and concern for a fallen fan that turned into a mini-rant about today’s concert-going culture, the second half of the show had everyone up on their feet. Especially during “The Sound,” during which the entire room was jumping in unison to Hann’s hypnotic guitar riffs.

It wouldn’t be a true 1975 show without a little politics. The band ended off the night with the headline-driven social anthem “Love It If We Made It,” and aggressive, pleading “People,” reminding the crowd that The 1975 stands for more than just good music - but perhaps a better world too. 

Being a fan of The 1975 while Healy’s been in the news for questionable actions and statements, plus the whole Taylor Swift thing, has not been easy. However, as I was whisked away with the crowd and into the cold November evening air, my heart was full of warmth for a band I’ve listened to for more than 10 years.

Like all of us, the band members may not be perfect but, when it comes to the music, The 1975 are indeed still at their very best.


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