1975 Los Angeles throwback: The Manchester band dazzles LA, but Matty Healy can be a hard pill to swallow
Matty Healy is lying on a leather couch smoking a cigarette and feverishly running his hand over his bare chest and crotch. That might sound like rather odd behavior in front of a crowded stadium, but if you’ve been paying any attention to The 1975’s ongoing tour, it all goes without saying.
Formed in Manchester, the band is currently in the US supporting their fifth studio album Being funny in a foreign language with their At Their Very Best live shows. Those performances have spawned countless viral social media clips, as Healy blurs the lines between “black pill performance art” (his words) and a pop-rock show. Fans have watched as the frontman bites chunks out of what appears to be a raw steak, snoggs fans in the audience and feigns masturbation. At a sold-out Kia Forum in Los Angeles, in front of the influencers, the TikTokers, Kendall Jenner and Halsey, Healy continues – for the most part – in the same vein.
He takes the stage with drummer George Daniel, guitarist Adam Hann and bassist Ross MacDonald. You’re entering an objectively amazing set design – a huge cross-section of a house, complete with chairs, lamps, TVs and bookshelves – although there are downsides for those seated in the wings, who now have to watch the band through open window panes. Healy acknowledges this when he tells a rowdy fan, “S**** sit anyway.”
The band starts off with songs Being funny in a foreign language, loosens up the audience with the pop disco grooves of “Happiness” and “I’m in Love with You”. But it’s the band’s slower shoegaze tracks that take on a colossal new weight. “About You” is a real teardrop as Healy’s voice, always raw with emotion, sounds finer than ever.
Then it’s off to the antics. Healy puffs on cigarettes and gulps on several hip flasks before diving into a step-friction interval accompanied by violins. The fans are screaming, but they don’t know why: what does that mean? A few side glances are exchanged between friends; a few tired “Oh Matty”s are uttered. Fans expected this behavior.
“I see a lot of signs of people telling me to kiss them,” notes Healy. Cue more scream. While performing the band’s sad 2013 hit “Robbers,” Healy made it his mission to pull a member of the audience onto the stage and kiss them passionately. Given the discourse of power imbalances in artist-fan relationships, these stunts seem ill-conceived at best and deeply problematic at worst. Tonight, however, there will be no such effort: “Nobody’s coming on stage tonight,” Healy tells the crowd. “Tonight is all about me.”
Boy, is he serious. “What does it mean to be a liberal man?” he asks during one of several rambling conversations with the crowd. “When I’m not doing that, I’m looking s*** and w***ing.” There is a supporting cast on the Matty Healy show, however. Backing vocalist Polly Money and saxophonist John Waugh take each tune to dizzying heights before Phoebe Bridgers makes her cameo appearance for a signature gig sotto voce Playing “Milk” by The 1975. “Robbers” finally comes and Healy makes his way to MacDonald, who finds himself locking his bandmate’s lips.
Given the audience reactions and the headlines garnered by Healy’s behavior, it seems unlikely that he’ll be turning it down any time soon. He loves attention, that much is clear. But it’s really a shame when such behavior detracts from a band at the peak of their artistic powers. As the title of the tour suggests, The 1975 really are better than ever.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/the-1975-concert-review-los-angeles-b2236354.html 1975 Los Angeles throwback: The Manchester band dazzles LA, but Matty Healy can be a hard pill to swallow