"Dare you not to dance."
I missed the uniform memo at the Hordern tonight — to attend The 1975's sold-out return to Sydney, you must be wearing black-and-white stripes, denim or a plain black tee. Ah well. Guards are already squirting water into punters' gaping mouths, but the atmosphere in here is palpable. An organiser comes out at one point imploring everyone to take "three big steps back" — has she met tweens who have camped out all day for a spot on the front barrier?
The swelling warble that's been playing for about five minutes finally drops its pitch forebodingly and rainbow static lights up the stage. A horn section intro plays and finally the Brits take the stage in darkness. The decidedly funky Love Me kicks in, the frontman and the object of Sydney's affections looking similarly retro with his shaggy curls, sheer unbuttoned shirt, pink pants and blue eyeshadow. Shrouded in dry ice, Matty Healy waggles his hips into Heart Out, the crowd singing the bridge back to them as a saxophonist joins them to dish out that sleazy sax solo.
Their groovy indie tunes, complete with Healy's cockney-tinged croon and constant falling about the stage leads them into tracks from their debut like Settle Down, So Far (It's Alright) and You. The crowd have big voices and their dancing shoes on (though maybe not literally, we saw lots of inappropriate and frankly uncomfortable-looking footwear). Before bursting into hit song This City, Healy tells the crowd, "listen here, look at me, take three steps back. It is getting hectic up the front!"
As Healy lights a cigarette, the strobes change from their shocking pink to match their new album cover to a green and pink combo, perfect to lead into the pulsing Menswear. Noticing a blind guy in the front row, Healy jumps down to the pit to give the guy a hug, before introducing their newly announced sophomore album to the crowd via A Change Of Heart, a quiet number that picks up towards the end with a funky lead line.
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The band are tight and intuitive of each other, though three of the four members are all but anchored to an instrument or mic stand, leaving Healy to commit to his Charlie Brown-like dancing. Regardless, you can tell each show still feels like a fresh challenge to them. Healy tells the crowd that he's worried everyone is missing what's actually happening — "Put your phones down, stop living retrospectively!" People feel a little guilty and put their gadgets away, and for once the floor is not lit with hundreds of little sparkles for Falling For You. Shiny new track The Sound has been out only a few days but the room of diehards are already singing and jumping around ("like a bunch of wankers!").
A faux computer glitch on the LEDs behind them is all the room needs to explode into Girls, the majority of — yes, girls — having a sashay, their arms flailing. Finally, set against a glowing orange Las Vegas skyline, their encore consists of Medicine, the guaranteed-a-good-time Chocolate and Sex. Dare you not to dance.