The 1975 bring ‘The Sound’ across the pond


Pop music is not supposed to be good. At best it should be a “guilty pleasure” for the listeners, but nothing more. It is supposed to be something anyone can dance to while remaining mind-numbingly simple in its lyrics and complexion. It is supposed to be dominated by solo artists, who have limited knowledge when it comes to instrumentation.

So what happens when all of these expectations of what pop music is supposed to be are thrown out the window? The result is The 1975, a group of gentlemen from Manchester, England who make top-notch music for the masses.

When listening to The 1975, one can never be too sure if it is a band from 2016 or 1986. They magically blend flares of modern music with sounds that could easily be mistaken for new wave artists such as Depeche Mode or The Cure.

This is part of their unique appeal, being able to seam the two together flawlessly. And while there are indeed other artists of today that attempt to recreate sounds of the past, more often than not it ends up as a lackluster tribute and nothing more.

The lads from across the pond brought their show to St. Louis thon Nov. 30 to a packed crowd at the Peabody Opera House. Though a seated venue may seem unconventional for a band of The 1975’s nature, it turned out to be the perfect location to play host to an evening that may go down as one of the best shows of the year.

Before The 1975 took the stage as the main attraction of the evening, Brooklyn duo Phantogram warmed the audience up with an hour-long set of their own. Fresh off of a long year touring as Big Grams, their project with Big Boi of Outkast, the band is back to themselves in support of their new album “Three.” The band’s set sprinkled old hits with new, but struggled to get the audience engaged.

Despite loop-driven, dream-like dance anthems such as “Don’t Move” and “When I’m Small,” the vast majority of the crowd remained seated during their set. The lack of energy from the crowd did not deter the band, who ripped through their catalog with the same intensity and energy that they would have brought at a headlining show or festival performance.

Though Phantogram played a great set in their own right, it was obvious that everyone in attendance was patiently waiting for The 1975, and at 9:00 they received exactly that. The house lights gradually dimmed as their mostly instrumental track “The 1975” blared over the speakers, and the band walked out to deafening roars that could have only been matched at a One Direction concert.

Without missing a beat, the band jumped into the immediate one-two punch of “Love Me” and “UGH!,” two standouts from their 2016 release, “I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It.”

Singer Matty Healy’s accent-tinged voice combined with goofy yet smooth dance moves took center stage, making the crowd swoon with excitement. The energy of the band bled into the audience, the entire crowd screaming along with every word.

The LED backdrop of giant rectangles brightly created hues of red and blue that brought the show to a new level of sensory engagement, forcing the 3,100 pairs of eyes in attendance to glue to the stage with its entrancing glow.

The jam-packed setlist pulled heavily from their most recent album, though their 2013 self-titled release was not forgotten. Old favorites such as “Girls,” “Sex” and “Chocolate” received some of the liveliest reactions of the evening, transforming the opera house into a dance hall with the opening chords of each of these songs. Upbeat, dance-driven tunes are not The 1975’s only trick.

The slow-burning ballad is another song type the band has mastered, as evidenced by perfect breakup anthems “A Change of Heart” and “Somebody Else.” Both of these songs created phenomenal moments within the show, but the most poignant moment of the concert came from their song “Paris.” Healy asked the crowd to have a moment completely in the present, without any phones out. The crowd happily obliged, and there wasn’t a screen to be seen in the audience as Healy sang about “romanticizing heroin,” a beautiful feat to occur in a time where everyone often feels the need to have their phone out.

If Tuesday night proved one thing, it is that The 1975 are everything pop music needs to be. We need more artists who can perfectly combine sounds of past and present without sounding uninspired.

We need more performers who can put on a show of a lifetime without backup dancers and costume changes. But until that becomes the norm for the genre (if it ever does), we can take solace in the fact that we still have The 1975.

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