The 1975 prove they’re some of the best performers on the planet with homecoming gig at the AO Arena

'Still at their very best' — too right.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 18th February 2024

Last night, The 1975 reminded Manchester and fans all over that they’re some of the very best performers on the planet when it comes to music right now, it’s that simple.

Not hyperbole, just an honest opinion from a fan who’s seen them multiple times now and has only seen them get bigger and better each time, not to mention become more impressive as all-round entertainers.

Managing to get a standing ticket to the first of their two packed-out nights at the AO Arena, almost exactly a year on from seeing them from the seated section in 2023, it’s fair to say that being in amongst it certainly played its part in somehow topping the previous and already unbelievable gig.

Dancing around like prats, shaking our knees and screaming our heads off; jumping up and down, and drinking in every drop of the serotonin-soaked atmosphere, we can’t remember many other shows that have genuinely got better with each second that passed — and it all started with an amazing support act.

the 1975 manchester gig review
The 1975 return to Manchester’s AO Arena and they are ‘still at their verrrrry best’ (Credit: The Manc Group)

Late last year, The Manc Audio had the pleasure of going along to see ever-rising Dirty Hit labelmates, The Japanese House, at New Century Hall where Amber Bain’s vocals nearly had us in tears and Saturday evening was no different.


Even in the space of just a couple of songs — the majority of which 1975 fans know pretty well too given how close the two acts are and certainly more than most supports usually enjoy the pleasure of when playing huge tours like this — we could fully envisage them headlining this arena themselves.

While The Japanese House is technically just Bain and her touring band, the record company’s influences, paired with production from Matty Healy himself and drummer George Daniel means that there are 1975 notes all over their sound, so it’s no surprise the two dovetail so well on a billing.


We were a bit gutted we didn’t get to see him come out and sing his part on ‘Sunshine Baby’ for their final song, but you can’t win ’em all. A very, very special singer-songwriter you should all be paying very close attention to.

As for the headliners themselves, while much of the set and stage design has remained pretty much the same from last year, the biggest difference right from the off was that Healy was on top form in every sense of the word, having played the previous AO Arena gig hopped up on Lemsip and red wine.

We didn’t think his voice sounded too far from its best in 2023 anyway, but it’s safe to say that everyone benefitted from him looking visibly healthier and perhaps a little less tipsy than last time, and the well-delivered vocals from minute one made the super cinematic opening credits feel even more considered.


And while there were plenty more of those movie-like scripted moments throughout the show and clever uses of the set (we’re not going to spoil too much), this latest iteration of the live set still has the same gorgeous aesthetic but now feels like just the right amount of abstract.

That being said, we don’t think anyone was expecting to see the Marmite frontman suddenly appear from a platform rising out of the ground and start singing the stripped-down version of ‘I Like America’ to a naked waxwork of himself…

But this was all part of what made the performance special last time and again last night. It isn’t just the joy of kicking the crowd off with those 80s-infused bangers they’re so good at like ‘Looking For Somebody to Love’ and ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’ — it’s all the other stuff around it.

The fact of the matter is, we have genuinely never seen shows like the kind that The 1975 write; they swing from well-rehearsed and thought-provoking to hugging your mate as you sway together before the whole arena suddenly turns into one big dancefloor and you’re just partying again. It’s seamless.

It might not be Pink doing a dozen backflips as she flies across the air in a harness at Bolton Stadium with loads of pyros and dance routines (though we did get the Love It We Made It choreography, back by popular demand), but these lot have come a long way from just drinking wine and smoking fags as they play the hits. It definitely feels like the rest of the band all had their hero moments this time too.


From saxophonist John Waugh shining in multiple spotlighted moments, Healy introducing bassist Ross MacDonald to the “ladies, especially” and more, they all had their hero moments. A special shout-out to the truly wonderful session player Polly Mooney as well, who took the lead on ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’ and smashed her ‘About You’ bridge. She’s far from just a backing player, believe us.

Playing a little something from every era as we hoped they would, adding in a few older tracks into the setlist compared to the previous tour, there weren’t many moments as happiness-inducing as bouncing around to ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’, ‘The Sound’ and, well, ‘Happiness’. Pure euphoria.

There was also plenty of catharsis in there too, as we also got cult classics like ‘Robbers’ and ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’, as well as probably the saddest and yet still the funkiest slow jam in ‘Somebody Else’.

We have no shame in admitting we welled up during a few, but you’ll just have to see which ones may or may not set you off.

As alluded to, there are plenty of surprises in store over the course of the 26-track and roughly two-and-a-half-hour set, and we also enjoyed the Wilmslow group giving a nod to their old stomping grounds like Satan’s Hollow and Deaf Institute where they headed for the afterparty. They’re local lads as far as we’re concerned.


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For the last two tours or so now, Healy has somewhat flippantly referred to The 1975 as “the best band in the world” up on stage and while being a bit cocky and braggadocious is far from new territory for the self-proclaimed nepo baby, we’re starting to take that claim more seriously each time.

The 34-year-old has been a controversial figure in music for a good long while now and understandably so — he certainly hasn’t always hit the mark as a ‘character’ and sometimes says things we don’t agree with, whether sardonic or not — but what it comes down to is him being a showman first and foremost.

Better still, he took a lot of the recent criticism for his comments and on-stage antics and pivoted to write almost all of it into this new show in a genuinely interesting way. Finding rockstars that have just as much self-awareness as they do self-obsession is pretty rare but, above everything else, the group as a whole have created a truly incredible live experience. On their art alone, they’re up there with the best.

For anyone going along to night two of The 1975’s Manchester homecoming at the AO Arena this Sunday, if the band bring even half of the energy and charisma that they did one night one, you’ll be in for an absolute treat and we’ll jump at every chance we get to see them again – so should you.

This pretty much sums everything up you can expect from The 1975 in Manchester.

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Featured Images — The Manc Group