At the Vogue Theatre on Saturday, April 26
When the mosh pit is showered with water bottles before the band has even made it on-stage, you know it’s going to be an exciting show. For the front-row fans (many of whom had reportedly been waiting in line since 5 a.m.) at Saturday’s concert by the 1975, the sold-out night at the Vogue Theatre was indeed a thrill, and maybe something more. In one teenybopper’s words as she side-eyed her sweaty neighbours, “Someone popped too much molly.”
Whether it was the MDMA or the music, the all-ages audience lapped up the sugary ear candy all night, responding as keenly to second-billed Bad Suns as if they’d been coheadliners. Unlike the half-empty room that often meets the opening act, the Vogue’s art-deco interior was packed to its red velvet brim during Bad Suns’ set.
Enthusiastic applause splashed over singer Christo Bowman as he belted his rosy-pink heart out and pulled David Byrne–ish dance moves. And the band kept the energy molly-high with lush, funk-inspired tunes reminiscent of Foals.
Then, it was the moment the front-row squealers, male and female, had been waiting for. As strobe lights began flashing rave-style, the neon rectangle floating in the backdrop glowed heaven-white, looking like a mystical doorway or some obscure hipster cult symbol.
Strutting on-stage, the 1975 launched into “The City”, the opening stadium-pop anthem off its self-titled hit debut, released just last year. The Manchester lads matched their record’s polished production flawlessly, thanks to singer Matt Healy’s sinewy pipes, drummer George Daniel’s dexterous pulse, and guitarist Adam Hann and bassist Ross MacDonald, who shared keyboard duties.
Hann and MacDonald mainly concentrated on playing with dagger-sharp focus—understandable, even if it meant they had the stage presence of hired goons. On the other hand, Healy was a true frontman, making impish wisecracks, sashaying around the stage, and bucking like a bronco during the set’s livelier bits.
However, a ballooning ego like that of most frontmen was detectable as soon as the mohawked singer swaggered to the mike, brandishing a bottle of red wine and clad in ripped black skinnies, a leather jacket, and a floral shirt opened all the way to reveal his tattoos and six-pack. He might as well have come out pleading, “I am rock ’n’ roll, right? Right?!”
In any case, he commanded the crowd well, unfurling a Canadian flag to wild cheers, accepting gifts from the audience, including a handwritten letter, and making charming speeches. For example: “A year ago in Manchester, we couldn’t have done this. Look at us now, Vancouver! Our mantra has always been about love and romance. So, please, when someone falls, pick them up. Don’t push each other, don’t kick each other, just kiss each other. Now let’s go mental!”
From the beats on R & B–inspired tracks like “M.O.N.E.Y.” to hooky tunes like the Kooks-indebted “Settle Down”, the band’s songs are as shiny-slick and safe as a comfy leather jacket. Like fellow indie success Haim, the 1975 takes eclectic inspiration from ’80s guitar pop and blue-eyed soul. None of its songs would sound out of place on a John Hughes film soundtrack.
And so it went that the Cyndi Lauper–inspired guitar lick on “Girls” and the gleaming, epic choruses of fellow hits “Chocolate” and “Sex” lit up the audience, leading to chants and more fancy footwork than any other part of the night.
Although the 1975’s life-affirming qualities may not be as apparent to those over 21, the band that’s on almost every “indie” Songza playlist knows how to show Vancouver a good time. It’s hard to imagine anyone was grumbling as they exited the Vogue, despite the sudden downpour that bade us good night.