From clips of Matt Healy devouring a raw steak on stage or doing push ups to videos of former U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss, it is hard to escape the absurdity of The 1975’s recent tour. The tour has been in the news and viral on social media since it began last November and for valid reasons. Recently, a concert film of the band’s performance at Madison Square Garden was released on Amazon Prime Video, allowing even more people to experience the bizarre spectacle that is The 1975.
The show is best defined as a mix between performance art, a dramatic stage play and a concert. With the stage designed to look like the inside of a house, Healy embodies the persona of a drunken, arrogant rockstar, occasionally taking swigs from a bottle and smoking a cigarette. Healy explained that he wanted the show to be experiential, similar to how he wanted the experience of listening to their most recent album “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” (2022) to be.
“Being Funny in a Foreign Language” tackles ideas of masculinity and what it means to be a man in today’s modern society, which is why Healy, who played a large role in the creation of the show, chose the role of a drunken rockstar. The album also deals with themes of adulthood and responsibility, which are apparent in many of the performances during the show.
“At Their Very Best” (2022) opens with Healy drinking from a flask and lighting a cigarette before sitting down at a piano to perform “The 1975,” the opening track on their latest album. Having the concert be recorded allows for a unique viewing experience that one might not have had standing in the pit or sitting up in the upper levels of MSG. With close-ups of Healy’s face, it is clear that he is acting — and doing a remarkable job at it. He is expressive and full of emotions, while his movements and dancing across the stage are intentional. Healy is telling a story through this concert and that is clear from the first song.
As Healy moves through the first half of his setlist, he explores the stage, allowing viewers to see just how much detail was put into the set. From vintage-looking televisions displaying various images during different songs to lamps that illuminate the stage when the spotlights go down, every furniture piece is a part of the story.
The show is an exciting, unconventional performance, and each song has that certain punch you want to feel from a rock song; however, there are certain songs that stand out among the rest. “About You,” (2022) one of the band’s slower songs is a work of art, and the performance allowed both Healy and backup singer Polly Money’s vocals to shine. “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” (2020) is energetic and powerful, while “Robbers” (2013) perfectly captured the dramatic persona Healy was trying to emulate. It is hard to pick a favorite or determine which song in the show was the best because simply put, every song is drastically different from the other, whether that be due to set choices or general performance, and that is what makes the show good.
From start to finish, Healy’s performance is never dull. Whether he is screaming into an autotuned microphone on top of the roof of the house during “I Like America & America Likes Me” (2018) or jamming with his red electric guitar during “Me & You Together Song,” (2020) his rockstar presence continuously leads to highly entertaining and vocally impressive hits.
Though Healy is the lead singer and was the center of attention for much of the show, the rest of the band deserves just as much credit. Whether they are delivering flawless backup vocals or elevating the performance with immaculate instrumentals, the band puts their heart into every song and helps create a remarkable auditory experience.
Before singing “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” (2018), Healy said to the crowd, “You know what the thing is with us? We just keep getting better, baby.” The statement, though likely meant to be a part of Healy’s obnoxious, self-obsessed rockstar charade, holds true. The 1975 has grown into a pop-rock sensation that has stood the test of time with all five of their albums charting at number one in the U.K. at some point, the home country of all the band members. “At Their Very Best” allows fans who were unable to secure tickets to their sold-out MSG show to see it in glorious high-definition quality while showing the immense talent and craft of a one-of-a-kind concert.