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Review: Columbus crowd spellbound by The 1975

Alternative rock band The 1975, who performed at the LC Pavilion May 5. Credit: Courtesy of Windish Agency

Alternative rock band The 1975, who performed at the LC Pavilion May 5.
Credit: Courtesy of Windish Agency

The fans gathered to hear The 1975 were hypnotized before the band even stepped foot in Columbus to woo them.

Monday’s alternative rock show was moved to the outdoor stage at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion from the smaller Newport venue — raising the capacity by about 3,000 people despite the breezy spring night. And that still wasn’t enough for the crowd.

The pit in front of the stage was rebellious enough during the two opening acts, Bad Suns and Sir Sly, that a staff member came onstage and asked fans to watch out for one another, but the request didn’t seem to last long.

As the Manchester-based band drew out anticipation for its grand entrance by slowly playing a chord over the loudspeakers again and again, the rowdiness only intensified. The repetitive note quickly grew less suspenseful and more irritating, but most members of the audience didn’t seem to mind as shouts increased with each note.

To add to the long buildup, there was enough smoke billowing onstage to supply a haunted house for years. Still, anticipation grew with the same chord droning on and on while very gradually speeding up (over the span of 15 semi-headache-inducing minutes) until finally, frontman Matthew Healy and the rest of the band emerged.

The 1975 barely got through two songs before Healy cut things off and refused to play again until members of the pit calmed down, took three steps backward and stopped pushing one another. LC bouncers took this time to pull some of the more unruly members from the crowd, and The 1975 resumed its magic.

But it’s hard to blame the people that were pulled from the crowd. The venue was enraptured from the beginning — lost under a spell from Healy’s voice and swagger.

He stole the show the moment he swayed onto the stage, openly drinking from a large bottle and dancing in his convulsive way — as if every note began deep in his chest, causing him to thrash around from the power of it.

Healy continued his swagger throughout the show, especially during upbeat fan favorites “Settle Down,” “Girls” and “M.O.N.E.Y.”  Even when he slowed the dance vibe down for “Me” and “Fallingforyou,” he still kept attention by asking the fans to light up the stage with their cell phones, which for some reason just really pleases crowds.

When the other three members of the band, Adam Hann on guitar, Ross MacDonald on bass and George Daniel on drums, began playing an instrumental opening to “Menswear,” the less animated figures who were illuminated against the band’s exclusively white lighting couldn’t hold the crowd the same way Healy did.

They were vital to the night and played passionately to the set list that included almost every track from the band’s 2013 self-titled album, but any charisma they had was lost to Healy’s prowess. Whether it was Healy’s jokes, his gratitude that Monday night was the largest show the band had played in the U.S. or his simply charming Manchester accent, the crowd was hooked.

Healy and the rest of The 1975 saved their most popular songs, “Chocolate” and “Sex,” for what by all technicalities would be considered the encore. It was more realistically the band momentarily stepping off the stage than an encore of any kind. The large illuminated rectangle that serves as the band’s logo was barely turned off before flickering back on to welcome them onstage again, but it seemed the crowd would have waited much longer to hear its favorite two songs.

As Healy strutted off the stage into the smoke one last time following the encore and final screams rose for the night, the black and white magic from the band’s stage lighting lifted and the spell slowly broke — leaving a thoroughly charmed crowd.

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