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The 1975 Are Truly, Absolutely, Completely, No Doubt About It, "At Their Very Best"

By Dani McKenzie | 30 November 2022

All photo credits to Jordan Curtis Hughes @jordhughesphoto.

The 1975 performed a sold out show at The Anthem in Washington, D.C. on November 10, 2022 and it just so happened to be one of the greatest experiences of my life.

The core four members of The 1975—Matty Healy, Adam Hann, George Daniel, and Ross MacDonald—were joined by a spectacular backing band: John Waugh on saxophone, Jamie Squire on keys and guitar, Polly Money on guitar, and Rebekah Rayner on percussion. The musicians didn't only contribute to the sound of the concert, but to the performance art aspects of the show as well. They are all members of the home in which the show takes place and play a crucial part in the environment and story. Their presence is symbolized by their respective lamps, and we witness them arrive, exit, return, and—at the very end—leave the core members behind for the final songs.

The merch for this tour says "Live on Stage in Show and Concert," and there really is no better way to put it. The first half of the performance is a theatrical deep dive into the making of the band's most recent album, "Being Funny in a Foreign Language." The audience sees the conditions in which the album was created through reflections on past identities of the band, reflections of the state of the world, personal struggles, and obviously, incredible music.

The references to past eras of the band struck a strong cord with long-time fans and have brought about a revival of the band online. Not only are older fans reminiscing, making their way back, or sharing their experiences, but younger fans are finding The 1975 for the very first time. We are beginning to witness The 1975's career in the scope of multiple generations as well as the way their music and impact will stand the test of time.

To put it simply: it's art. The messages, the visuals, the set, the band itself, and of course, Matty Healy, in all his performing glory, make the show so much more than a concert.

The best way I can try to explain this show is with a combination of feelings: take the kind of post-concert high you may have experienced before, add it to the feeling of watching the news any day in the past like 3 years, your favorite movie or play, and your most introspective moments in life, then multiply it all by a factor of at least 4. It's a play, a musical, a day-in-the-life, a social commentary, and a beautiful tribute to the band and the fans. I left the show feeling like I had witnessed something extraordinary; if the online conversations about this tour are anything to go by, I am not the only one.

I simply can't write a review of this concert or anything about The 1975 without giving Healy some love. Matty Healy has always been a very unique performer (and person?), but at this point, he’s incomparable. I genuinely had trouble knowing when we were seeing Matty himself and when we were seeing the character he was putting on. I could not tell when he was acting, and in all honesty, it left me feeling pretty uneasy and fairly concerned. But maybe that's the whole point.

This particular audience was lucky enough to witness a really special moment. In attendance at the D.C. show of The 1975's At Their Very Best Tour was none other than the first Gen-Z congressperson ever elected, Maxwell Frost.

After it was announced that he had officially been elected to Congress, Frost tweeted, "I'VE BEEN CAMPAIGNING FOR OVER A YEAR THIS IS WILD!! I'M GONNA SEE @the1975 ON THURSDAY TO CELEBRATE!!!" When it came time for The 1975 to perform their endlessly iconic and strongly politically charged "Love It If We Made It", Matty Healy dedicated the song to Frost, saying, "It's about [redacted] time we have some 1975 fandom representation [in Congress]." From the cheers that accompanied the entire interaction, it would seem that the crowd agreed.

I found that there was a level of disconnect in some of the audience members present at the show. Matty Healy isn’t doing push-ups shirtless in front of the prop TV screens for our enjoyment or breaking down in front of us so we can go viral on TikTok: he’s doing it to prove a point. The screens show the current problems that our world faces and the setting from which all of this art was formed. The 1975 held up a mirror to themselves to create this show, and now they are holding up a mirror to the audience, saying, "Look."

The show itself is an incredible demonstration of self-reflection and self-reference from The 1975, which so strongly sets them apart as a band. It is not common for artists to have the career iconicness” to make heart-wrenching and awe-inducing references to their past, musically or visually. (Yes, I am 100% talking about Matty's recreation of the “Robbers” music video pose while performing “About You,” and the door in place of the renowned symbol of the band.)

It is rare to find artists that sound the same live as they do recorded, but it is an even greater rarity to find artists that sound better live than they do recorded. The 1975 has always been one of these rarities.

It isn’t, and has never been, in the nature of The 1975 to do things aimlessly and incompletely, and this show, tour, era, and their constant push to evolve prove it.

This show holds true to The 1975’s foundational ability to demonstrate that music and art should reflect the human experience, whether that be love, loss, fear, anger, aloneness, joy, or simply making sense of life. The band, and specifically Matty Healy, have spoken many times about the self-reflecting nature of The 1975 and this show feels like the most explicit culmination of that nature.

Some people say you should grow out of the things that deeply impacted you in your adolescence—that there is a season for everything. But with the tenth anniversary of their self-titled album around the corner, it is impossible for me to convey the significance of this band and their music. They have created a space of belonging and acceptance for so many people, including myself. I don't think I will ever grow out of The 1975. I am so unbelievably grateful that I got to experience this era of their career live. They really do “just keep getting better” *cue It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)*.


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