Call it indie pop’s Beatlemania. Within the past four years, The 1975 have captured the hearts of millennial youth and quietly rocketed to superstardom, reshaping themselves as a slick pop act along the way. Singer Matt Healy and crew began their tenure as The 1975 in the vein of acts like M83, The Big Pink, and Passion Pit. They were emotive, expansive and ebullient- qualities they’ve retained since their rebrand, but molded to fit into the 80s pop revivalist sound the crowd saw on display at the Air Canada Centre this past Thursday.
Speaking of display- the band’s set design was impeccable. Along with a massive background screen, there were four pillars on the stage, all covered in digital screens as well. Each song had it’s own theme which the backdrop and pillars shared. Songs like “UGH!” and “Love Me” still deal with matters of the heart, but the delivery’s gone from wistful to brash so the visuals reflected that with a swanky, neon theme. The rubbery, elastic slap-bass and funky rhythms recalled 80s acts like INXS and Duran Duran, as did Healy’s strut around the stage during the songs, tossing his artfully tousled mane back and forth in time with the songs.
Of course every band playing the Air Canada Centre needs a song or two where the crowd stops cheering and pulls out a light to sway with- in the 1975’s case it was the Balearic ballad “Somebody Else” from this year’s lengthily-titled album I Like it When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of it.
There were a few other moments of respite from the jangle-funk, and those included several ambient interludes that serve as remnants from the band’s origins. The oddball “Lostmyhead” also came out of left field; not only was it loose and airy, but the unstructured wall-of-noise track could comfortably be slotted in a shoegaze playlist without anyone batting an eye.
The set ended with the song “The Sound”, followed by another sound. It was the roar of teenage fandom clamouring for more. If this is what the band can achieve having only been in the spotlight for four years, it’s going to be interesting to see how they can top themselves. It could be that their biggest and best years are yet to come.