Review: The 1975 at Alexandra Palace, London

The 1975 At Alexandra Palace, London, October 1 2014

I’ve been waiting to see The 1975 for a while. For one reason or another, I hadn’t had the opportunity to get to see them live until they played the last night of their tour in Alexandra Palace in London.

Not only was this a first to see the band but also an opportunity to check out Ally Pally as a concert venue. I’ve been there before even while there have been soundchecks going on and to interview bands but never during an actual show.

Y.O.U. and Circa Waves opened for The 1975, during their sets I took the opportunity to explore the venue, which itself does not disappoint. After passing the ticket check point, you pass into a huge open area with food and bar stalls and a cute green ‘grass’ section in the centre to sit, eat and drink, everything from noodles to burgers and in the main auditorium, even a pizza bar. The queues for loos are really well controlled with the guys loos getting a ladies sign for the night. Plus there’s also free wifi. So all thumbs up for the venue.

So onto the band. Circa Waves leave the stage and the build up for The 1975 begins. A low bass drone slowly fills the auditorium and the smoke machines have been set to extreme. It’s just after 2130 when the band come on to the stage and unfortunately my heart sinks.

With a maximum capacity of just over 10000, the main auditorium is a big room (standing only) and unless you’re near the front of the venue, you’re not going to see The 1975. It’s a really silly, stupid move not to have a big screen at the stage in a venue of this size. The Libertines could do so at their show in the same venue a few days before.

The set kicked off with ‘The City’, and while musically they band were on point, it was impossible for them to connect with anyone near the back of the venue. People were dancing to the music while not even facing the stage, they could have been at home with the stereo on.

Unfortunately for me, this was a big hurdle to overcome. I loved the The 1975’s album and during the course of a set of nearly 90 minutes, it became apparent that the band would have a kick ass festival set with a decent amount kick ass songs that the audience could sing along too. However, here, the set seemed stretched just a little too far. Matt Healy mentioned a few times on stage that The 1975 were working on a second album too, that should add another couple of hits to a set that unfortunately seems to lag in parts.

The audience loved the well known / singles with standouts being Robbers, Chocolate and Heart Out but all the energy was at the front of the venue. What made things slightly more annoying was when singer Matt Healy asked the crowd how many were there seeing them for the first time. Probably half the audience. He mentioned that then previously, that section of the crowd would have only seen the band on a screen, so he asked the audience not to use their cameras for the next song. Unfortunately, thanks to the lack of screen at the stage, the only way anyone could see the stage or what was going on was to hold their phones aloft and have a look.

I understand that the band may not have wanted a screen to take away from their onstage lighting set up, but if you’re playing to that many people, at least you owe them enough to let them see you on stage, even if it’s on a screen. The tickets for the show were £21 plus booking for the next time add another fiver onto that and get a screen lads.

As many of the audience start legging it down the hill to Alexandra Palace train station, the band play their final song of the night ‘Sex’, which should have been, (no pun intended) in your face from the opening notes.. unfortunately, perhaps due to a technical issue it takes a bit of time for the wow bass factor to kick in.

No matter how well the Manchester band played or how full the venue was, it doesn’t make this a brilliant night, much to my disappointment. I genuinely love the band’s music but unfortunately the live experience is all about getting a connection, a buzz, something that didn’t happen for me in Ally Pally.

I’m sorry I didn’t get to see them in February in The Olympia in Dublin. I still bought a tshirt though.