Manchester pop rockers The 1975 returned to Vancouver last night (May 1) for the second time in just over a year, as they continued the victory lap of an extensive tour supporting 2016's I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It. The hype leading up to the performance was palpable, and rumour had it that some particularly avid fans had even camped out overnight to secure the best spots at the PNE Forum.
Fellow British bands Colouring and Pale Waves started off the night, both groups playing music that fit well with the headliner. Colouring played from their 2016 EP, Symmetry, blending down-tempo ballads with electronic beats. Their lead singer, Jack Kenworthy, connected with the enthusiastic audience, who appreciated his smooth vocal delivery.
Next up were 1975 label mates, Pale Waves, who played upbeat post-punk with a heavy '80s influence. "My Obsession" and a subsequent song about New Year's Eve delivered relationship-themed pop, led by guitarist and lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie's catchy vocal lines.
The wait for the main act felt lengthy, though, especially for the most dedicated members of the 1975's fanbase, whose patience had worn thin by the time they finally hit the stage.
The show opened with the acoustic "She Lays Down," after Matt Healy walked onstage with a lit cigarette. From the first note onwards, the crowd sung along to his every word. From there, they moved on to more bombastic tracks from I Like It When You Sleep, like "Love Me," which elicited an especially exuberant cheer of excitement from one of the few men on the floor. The song's theatricality and infectious pop sound created a fun experience, further built up by "UGH!" and "Heart Out" — the latter impossible to refrain from singing along to.
The structure of the setlist was a bit odd, dropping off in energy just when the band had achieved a genuine connection with the crowd. The 1975's calmer songs, however, didn't always falter; "Undo" was languid, while "fallingforyou" allowed Healy to sing directly to audience members. The band evidently wanted to recreate the atmosphere of their latest album, instrumental tracks included. Unfortunately, these songs tended to feel overly drawn out, coming across more like recreations of tracks by the likes of Coldplay, M83 or Radiohead than intriguing original pieces.
Healy took time to rant about the disconnection from the present perpetuated by constantly documenting moments with our phones, before asking the audience to put them away for "Me." It would have been valuable had he made that request earlier, as most of the show was tainted by hoards of iPhones trying to record every line.
The band saved their strongest tracks for near the end of their main set, showing off "Somebody Else" and "Girls" fairly late.
Throughout the entire show, the 1975 proved their winning formula of crisp guitar, a precise rhythm section and Healy's rather versatile vocal abilities. Their tenor saxophonist performed amusing, cheesy solos throughout the night, but they never felt out of place, much like Healy's off-the-wall lyrics.
Within the massive range of pop groups, the 1975 proved themselves to be unique in a loveable way during last night's performance. Their blending of genres, frontman Healy's stage presence and the energy of a diehard fanbase ensured that all in attendance left the show with a feeling satisfied, but also curious about what the band will do next.
Order I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it on CD via Umusic.