Hard Rock Live; Orlando, FL • December 4, 2016
by Jen Cray
I love it when a front man is larger than life. Cocky, self assured, a bit rude even, in his arrogance onstage — these characteristics would make me loathe a person in everyday life, but onstage it creates a charisma that can transform a band into Rockstars. Manchester’s The 1975, and frontman Matt Healy in particular, are such a band.
With an air of “I’ve seen this all before” nonchalance, the floppy haired Mancunian strolls along the Hard Rock Live stage breaking hearts with every small gesture he directs to the sold-out crowd. When it’s become obvious, even to the band onstage, that the fan frenzy push to get closer to the stage has reached a dangerous level, Healy steps in to correct the issue by asking everyone to take a step to the side and another step back, to open up some space. Sweet, right? He follows up the concern with, “There. Now we’ve corrected the problem that you guys started.” Cue the screams of adoration.
What is it about English bands and American fans? They inspire teary-eyed, heart-crushing Mania on a Beatles level. During “Change of Heart,” Healy concentrates more on the cigarette he’s smoking then the flowers he’s plucking from a bouquet to toss out to the crowd. And when he eventually throws the entire bunch, in one fell swoop, into the outstretched arms that desperately grab for a souvenir, it’s with absolute coolness that Healy walks to the back of the stage to take another sip from his glass of wine seemingly oblivious infatuation he just created.
Of course, that’s nothing compared to the palpable heart breaks caused during the dance pop breakup ballad “Somebody Else.” A friend gave me the heads up about this song ahead of time, “It hits all the Feels,” she told me. Those “Feels” were smashed, lit on fire, and circulating throughout the room.
So, yeah, The 1975 are fucking Rockstars. I get it. They’re bringing back ’80s synth pop in a big, BIG way. Surprising though, opening band Coin inspired the same sort of puppy love on the part of the Orlando crowd. More keyboard-led pop, this time out of the unexpected terrain of Nashville, TN. With unending energy and smiles that reached from here to the far off parking garage on the other end of Citywalk, Coin would have upstaged a lesser headliner — their set was that electrifying. And when frontman Chase Lawrence ended up in the crowd by set’s end, it was clear that Coin is poised to be the next hot ticket.
Synth pop is back and a new generation of fans will finally have something in common, musically, with their parents who grew up listening to Duran Duran and INXS.