“Rock and Roll is dead, God bless The 1975,” flashed across the band’s trademark box-framed screen as the English rock band prepared to close out their sold-out show at PNC Pavilion on Sunday night.
The Manchester based group delivered a performance of genre-smashing hits from each of their three albums to the captivated audience. The 1975 never failed to keep their fans engaged and on their feet, opening with the inspirational “Give Yourself a Try” from their most recent album, “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships.”
The ever-changing set list from each of their shows this tour kept fans speculating about which songs they’d get to hear.
“Play ‘Antichrist!’” a fan screamed during a brief moment of silence in between songs—although they were not going to play “Antichrist.” The band’s manager, Jamie Oborne, tweeted a fan early Sunday morning that “some things are better left as moments in time.”
“This song is about you guys,” frontman Matty Healy said before beginning the romantic power ballad “I Couldn’t Be More in Love.”
On stage, Healy was equal parts melodramatic and nonchalant; his stage presence effortlessly captivating. From mindlessly tossing his rabbit-eared hat into the crowd during “Sincerity is Scary,” to tying a black bandanna around his neck on the dimly-lit stage before the band’s performance of “Robbers,” Healy’s performance style remained fluid.
Healy went from dancing along with the Jaiy twins in an onslaught of flashing lights and high-energy sound to quickly shifting moods, lighting a cigarette and sipping a glass of red wine preparing for “You.”
The crowd followed Healy’s lead, from lightly swaying and holding hands during songs like “Change of Heart” or “Fallingforyou” to bouncing up and down to “She Way Out” or “Sex.”
Healy paused before introducing the next song. “This song is about … me,” Healy said before launching into the dreamy ballad “Me,” from their self-titled album. The crowd was peppered with tiny flames, emitted from personal lighters as people swayed to Healy’s hypnotic voice.
Healy also demanded the crowd dance with him or else he’d look like a narcissist before bringing up one of the opening acts, No Rome, to perform their song called “Narcissist.”
Despite the band pulling songs from their past albums, like “Somebody Else” and “Chocolate,” their current politically relevant content could not be ignored or forgotten.
The 1975 is a lot of things—vulnerable, inspirational, experimental, dramatic—but could never be accused of subtlety. Their blatant disregard for fear of losing fans over the messages they choose to send were obvious with Healy’s passionate performance of “I Like America & America Likes Me,” a disorienting rant about gun violence begging you to “please listen.”
During the performance of “Love It If We Made It,” Healy paused to watch the blurring images on the screen behind him depicting scenes from recent news. The song is an anthem of survival with a nihilistic acceptance of our fate, a parallel to “I Like America & America Likes Me” recognizing that “modernity has failed us” but maybe we’ll make it.
The band avoided saturating the audience with songs from its most recent album thanks to their refusal to stick to a coherent theme. This lack of organization, which was perhaps intentional, kept the performance surprising. No one was ever bored, and gasps of surprise and excitement could be heard when someone realized the band was playing their favorite song.
The crowd was bathed in blue, red, orange and purple lights—a perfect visual for the feeling that everyone was participating in a modern art exhibit.
“We just keep getting better, Cincinnati,” Healy said before launching into “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not with You).”
By the end of the evening, the energy at the pavillion was infectious, with 4,000 fans jumping up and down in unison screaming the lyrics to “The Sound,” hoping the night would never end.