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The 1975 at their very best live in Manila

MATTHEW HEALY performs with his band
The 1975, during the Leeds Festival 2022. —REUTERS

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia, Managing Editor

Concert ReviewThe 1975: At Their Very Best TourMay 3 and 4SM Mall of Asia Arena

FOR FRONTMAN Matty Healy, Manila will always have “dibs” on The 1975.

After all, Filipino fans have embraced the British pop rockers, from the first time they performed in malls around Metro Manila to their sold-out concerts since then.

The 1975 returned to Manila for a two-night concert at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on May 3 and 4.

“The thing is with Manila is you guys kind of have dibs on The 1975 because you were the first ones to like us. We were bigger in Manila before we were bigger in the UK (United Kingdom),” Mr. Healy said at the May 4 concert.

And Mr. Healy and his bandmates Adam Hann, Ross MacDonald, and George Daniel tried to make Filipino fans feel a little extra special by including rarely performed songs in the setlist for both nights.

HIT AFTER HITThe concert started with the mysterious word Atpoaim — an acronym for A Theatrical Performance Of An Intimate Moment — projected on the big screen.

True to the tour’s title, At Their Very Best, The 1975 launched hit after hit with barely time for the audience to catch their breath.

In the first half hour, fans were treated to songs that kept them on their feet — “Looking for Somebody (to Love),” “Happiness,” “UGH!,” “Oh Caroline,” and “I’m in Love with You.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the soundtrack of your life,” Mr. Healy said before singing the super catchy “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know).”

The English band performed an interesting mix of songs from their five albums, including their latest, Being Funny in a Foreign Language. Over both nights, fans were treated to “fallingforyou,” “About You,” “Robbers,” “Somebody Else,” “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You),” and “Love It If We Made it.”

ALWAYS ONLINEThe charismatic Mr. Healy appeared at ease most of the time, holding a mic on one hand and a bottle of wine or a cigarette on the other.

But he did show signs of weariness at his popularity, particularly on TikTok, where fans have shared countless clips of his performances and onstage antics during the US and UK tour, like kissing fans (with their consent), eating raw meat, and (gasp!) even fondling himself.

“I can see you all use your phones, so you’re all online. You’ve seen this show. It never used to happen before TikTok… I suppose you’re expecting something new. You want me to do something. This has turned into the ‘what mood is Matty going to show’,” Mr. Healy said during the May 3 concert.

At one point, he looked a bit annoyed at the fans who were taking videos, asking them to put down their phones.

“Let’s just have one moment where it’s just us. Trust me, it’ll have more value than the constant phone thing,” he said.

It did appear that most fans complied, which is probably why you won’t find any video clips of the “Me” performance.

But The 1975 made up for this by playing “Pressure” and “Paris” (which Mr. Healy said was his favorite The 1975 song) during the first night.

For the May 4 concert, The 1975’s setlist was mostly unchanged, except for some last-minute tweaks.

Unlike the previous night, The 1975 did a surprise acoustic set featuring “Nana,” “Be My Mistake,” and “When We Are Together.”

“Nana,” a song that Mr. Healy wrote about his late grandmother, was one of two songs requested by a fan who had asked The 1975 to pick one from her “surprise song request” signboard.

DROPPING HINTSEarlier on Thursday, rumors swirled about Mr. Healy’s romance with American pop superstar Taylor Swift. While he didn’t make any comment on the speculation, Mr. Healy may have dropped a hint or two by adding “She’s American” and “The City” to the setlist.

Before launching into “She’s American,” Mr. Healy quipped: “She sure is.”

“The City” was one of two songs Ms. Swift performed when she made a surprise appearance at The 1975’s concert at the O2 Arena in London in January.

For the “Me & You Together Song,” he goes: “Hey Manila, I’ve got something real to tell you… (starts singing) I’ve been in love with her for ages/ And I can’t seem to get it right/ I fell in love with her in stages/ My whole life.”

Mr. Healy then stopped singing. “That’s right,” he added, before giving a wide grin at the camera.

LOOSER APPROACHCompared to their previous tours, The 1975 seems to have taken a looser approach for the overseas At Their Very Best Tour concerts. Songs are added and removed depending on the night — maybe it’s also partly due to what Mr. Healy referred to, that fans are always online now. Thanks to videos uploaded on Tiktok and other social media, fans know what to expect from concerts. It makes it much harder for acts like The 1975 to give fans something new.

For someone who watched both nights, The 1975 still came up with a few surprises, like when Mr. Healy sang snippets of “Guys” and the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.”

The 1975 closed both nights with back-to-back-to-back songs — “The Sound,” “Sex,” and “Give Yourself a Try” — that got everyone on their feet.

With that, The 1975 ended the shows on a high note, but left some fans wanting just one more song from Matty, Ross, Adam, and George.

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