From the line-up of teenaged girls outside the Vogue Theatre on Saturday, a line-up that wrapped around a Granville Street block, it would seem that a boy band was in Vancouver. But these girls who were waiting since 11 a.m. for a show that began at 8 p.m. were not lined up for the latest incarnation of the Backstreet Boys. These fans were anxiously waiting to gain a spot near the front of the stage, for the return of the UK’s latest indie pop-rock sensation, The 1975.
Hailing from Wilmslow, near Manchester, England, this four piece have been life long, childhood friends. I was lucky enough to watch the show with my English friend, Rupert Blade, who has personally known the band for years. His stories about the band’s early years made me realize, these guys did not have an overnight success. Ten years, countless shows, and a few name changes later, their debut album was finally released last year, and that was just the beginning. Their self-titled album was critically acclaimed globally, and they played a massive show opening up for the Rolling Stones at Hyde Park. In Vancouver, The 1975 played a sold-out show in Venue last fall, just to return to another sold-out crowd this past weekend.
From the start of their set, and a simple rectangular box is lit in the background of the stage, the crowd goes hysterical. The fans, particularly the girls who lined up so early, are finally getting what they had waited for all day (possibly months). Unlike recent concerts I’ve been to, this all-ages crowd had quite a few obvious parents, and no line ups at the bars. Starting their set with “The City”, the rapid lights – and black and white images they are known for – fill the stage. A fan favourite, “The City” proved a strong opener for the band’s set. A few songs into the show, the band’s friend John Waugh joined the boys on stage with his saxophone for “Heart Out”- a song Blade said he prefer better live for its longer saxophone bit. Waugh also had solos during “Pressure” and “Me”. The young crowd went wild during “So Far” when lead singer Matt Healy – decked in his signature skinny black jeans- carried a large Canadian flag on the stage.
Throughout the show, The 1975 showed charisma and connected with their screaming fans regularly in between songs. Healy spoke of their band’s mantra at one point, stating they are all about “love, romance, and facilitating. Just kiss each other.” Fans were passing along gifts onto the stage. If it weren’t for the music, it would feel like a boy band’s concert. But that is where The 1975 differ- they really don’t fall under the boy band category, or punk, or indie, or just pop. They seem to have merged into several, and by the looks of the happy faces in the crowd, the fans really don’t seem to mind.
The band finished their set with a strong encore that included their hits “Robbers”, “Sex”, and their most widely known single, “Chocolate.” The Saturday night show was electric, and whether or not The 1975 are a boy band, fans were left satisfied until the band’s next visit to our fair city (rumoured to be sometime later this year).
Photo: The 1975