Are The 1975 really still "at their very best"?

Are The 1975 really still “at their very best”?

After two years of uninterrupted tour, The 1975 finally arrive in Italy to bring their very elaborate show to the stage of the Mediolanum Forum in Assago. The 1975 to prove that they are still “at their very best”, to use the tagline of the last tours.

You hear the roar of an oncoming car, see the headlights cut through the night and burst through the windows, before stopping in a driveway you can only imagine. The engine is turned off, the alarm is armed and the domestic warmth welcomes The 1975, who turn on all the lamps of the imposing stage-house one by one. The fans who flocked to the Mediolanum Forum in Assago are the privileged spectators of a theatrical staging set in a beautiful seventies apartment, crowded with cathode ray tube televisions, books and armchairs. They are welcome into the bourgeois intimacy of this bizarre extended Manchester family, where everything is thought out down to the smallest detail.

All the cigarettes lit, all the glasses filled and then emptied, all the gestures of this fake routine are a journey into an idea as simple as it is effective. If Truman Black is the nickname and alter ego of Matty Healy, then this is our very personal The Truman Black Show, where every reference to the famous Peter Weir film is awkwardly intentional. We are shown a truth that has very little truth, because it is engineered for the public and in fact leaves everyone with their eyes wide open and their mouths open. Put like this, it would seem like an accusation of lack of substance, but it is not. Indeed: the music of The 1975 is increasingly the absolute protagonist.

The Manchester band released their best album a year and a half ago? Probably yes, because even live the songs taken from “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” are many (eight) and all formidable. But it's not just about that. Basically a very good musical project that in the past made beautiful things heard especially in the studio, now it is also a great live band. On stage, in addition to Matthew, there are the other three founding members and long-time friends: Adam Hann, George Daniel and Ross MacDonald. And then there are five session musicians who make the live show monstrously perfect. In short: if you have to criticize this group it can no longer be on the live performance, because we will probably never see them better than that.

Hearing today's version of “Robbers” is almost touching and is an excellent benchmark to understand how things are going for the Manchester band. The sing-along is at an all-time high, the sound borders on perfection and the band owns the stage. Even the singles from “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships” have never sounded so good, with the acoustic solo of “Be My Mistake” becoming an inevitable highlight and “Love It If We Made It” remaining orphaned by the ballets of Matty but remains irresistible.

However, there is something that doesn't work well. It hides like the sand under the carpet of that beautiful living room without walls: and it's the feeling that at the end of the tour The 1975 are a bit morally atrophied. In fact, those who will be disappointed will be the fans of Matty's speeches, usually a great talker but this time totally immersed in the role, without space – or perhaps desire/energy? – for any digression. When you decide to do a tour that follows a concept like this, with gags, scenic gimmicks, even episodes that divide the setlist into segments with titles, well, it's inevitable: you also become a bit of a victim. At the hundredth performance it is also physiological that the show dries up leaving only what is functional and tested, in a performance that if it does not have an out of the ordinary context and does not have any particular input then it goes on automatic pilot. So enough controversy and provocations, but also enough chatting with the public and even improvised ballets, here reduced to the bare bones. It remains such a well-structured idea that it has swallowed up, evening after evening, every non-script residue, while leaving in plain sight an undoubtedly brilliant work.

It is said that a work of art, once delivered to the world, no longer belongs (only) to the artist but to anyone who enjoys it. In this case, however, it is as if Matty Healy was able to remain totally immersed in what he created, inextricably linked to the fruits of his fervent creative mind. What you see on stage isn't just about him, it's him. Everything, including furniture. So maybe yes, these are The 1975 “still… at their very best”, but above all it is The Truman Black Show.