January can be a month of false impressions in pop, when a band can look bigger than it really is by doing something major in a music wasteland. The 1975’s three nights in this 5,000-capacity venue are London’s only gigs of note this week but the Manchester quartet has been making a big noise before now. Their debut album went to number one in the much busier month of September.
“A year ago we were playing the Barfly,” noted frontman Matt Healy, reflecting on a 12-month trajectory that would give most bands the bends.
But when your two biggest songs are called Sex and Chocolate, you have a pretty good idea of what the public wants. Their looks — four black-shirted indie boys, with Healy unable to leave his half-floppy, half-shaved hairdo alone — concealed a shiny pop heart.
Girls skipped along on a wave of light funk guitar. M.O.N.E.Y was stuttering, futuristic R&B. Heart Out, another striking tune, dared to indulge a saxophone solo.
Healy seemed less engaged than he can be, despite proclaiming this “one of the greatest nights of our lives”. He’s surely exhausted after the year they’ve had, but the world is far from tired of his outstanding songs.