On April 27 at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, the English band, The 1975, performed with the openers Wolf Aliceand The Japanese Housefor a night that fans might have found pleasing, but which left a more neutral impression on newer initiates.
The Japanese Housetook the stage while people were still slowly filing onto the floor and taking their seats. Their introduction was mellow and unassuming, which was a theme that carried on through the rest of their performance. The band's music stayed echoey and distant throughout, rarely hitting anything like a climax or even elevated pitch. While that is all well and good for their style, it did not make for the most exhilarating of opening acts. Not only was it difficult to hear what they were saying, but one song blurred into the next and failed to leave much of a lasting impression. At the end of their set when the band left stage, the crowd's reaction seemed to be largely indifferent.
Wolf Alicethen quickly woke everyone up with a gut punch of angry alternative-rock, shredding and expletive-filled lyrics, which was a refreshing contrast to the previous act. They woke everyone up and made the audience feel like there was something to get excited about. Ellie Rowsell has a good voice and she and her bandmates looked like they were having a good time up on stage. Their presence was strong and the crowd was out of their seats, which had everyone suitably ready for The 1975to come up right after.
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The opening song was mostly enjoyable and showed off The 1975's retro style with some guitar playing heavily reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield and the soul/funk days of the ’70s. The vibe was nice and upbeat with a saxophone addition in the second song which made the piece.
Problems emerged with the sound mixing, causing the bass to be so powerful that you could practically hear people's teeth rattling in their skulls. It also drowned out most of the vocals, turning Matthew Healy's voice into inaudible yelling, devoid of much understanding.
The second problem came down to Matthew Healy himself, whose presence on stage was passive and lethargic. He was obviously going for the slightly inebriated, absent presence of some of the greats, but it mainly felt like he was phoning it in — or too drunk to project any real charisma. True, a lot of the songs were a bit too muted to keep people on their feet, but Healy was also just not engaging enough to merit great excitement. His singing was fine, but his comments between songs — which most lead singers use to engage the audience — came across as a bit sleezy and arrogant. The most interesting thing he said was to implore the audience to stop looking at their phones for five minutes, a request that seemed to go largely ignored.
The most telling moment of the night was when a stagehand came out on stage to give Healy a cigarette, also joined by a glass of wine. No doubt it was all meant to give him the appearance of someone being far too cool to care as he stumbled about the stage like Jack Sparrow, billowing out clouds of smoke. Instead, it just made Healy seem like he did not really intend to give the performance his all, which made it very hard to feel remotely enthusiastic. He was trying way too hard and it came across as the wrong kind of confident.
The effects were fine, the openers not bad and the live music of The 1975was pretty good for their genre. However, Healy was obviously absent from the stage when he performed, which made the concert as a whole largely unremarkable and forgettable.