The 1975 Live at Madison Square Garden! // Still... At Their Very Best Tour 2023 (NYC Night 2)

It's not living (if it's not with The 1975)! I recently had the most amazing experience at Madison Square Garden seeing one of my favorite bands ever on the second night of their Still... At Their Very Best tour. To have the chance to see a band that influenced my life so profoundly for nearly a decade in one of the greatest cities in the world is a memory I will always cherish. I have been counting down the days to this show since I got the tickets for my birthday back in August. This is my second time seeing The 1975 live and the memories I have of the first show from six and a half years ago are among some of the greatest of my entire life. That show in 2017 was at a much smaller venue in my hometown in Pennsylvania, in support of their sophomore album, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful, Yet So Unaware Of It. I have loved seeing how far they've come over the years as they continue to grow in their artistry. I always look back on that show with an overwhelming amount of joy that I got to be there and witness it for myself. I have always loved live music so much and that was the first time I left a concert and felt like a different person than I went in as. That has only ever happened a few times since and I can't even really describe it, but it's a feeling I will never ever forget. At 17 years old, that just felt like such a formative experience for me that I will hold onto forever.

Since I last saw The 1975, they have released three more incredible albums, and I couldn't wait to get to hear so many of my favorite songs live finally. The set list really was perfect for this show, they played every single song that I have always wanted to hear live and it was even better than I could've ever hoped it would be. Still...At Their Very Best is such a perfect title for this tour. It is the second installment of their 2022 At Their Very Best tour, which really feels like a celebration of the decade of them releasing music and twenty years as a band. The show was nearly two hours long and there wasn't a single dull moment of the night. 

This show as unlike any other I have ever been to before. It was part traditional concert, part performance art, with Matty Healy often blurring the lines between the two. I think that is partly what has always made Matty such a provocative entertainer and public figure - you never really know where that line is. But what can be said for certain about Matty is the real and raw emotion that shines through the entire show underneath the "act" of his onstage persona. The same can be said about all of The 1975's music of the past decade, too. Behind all of the light-hearted or ironic moments and memorable one-liners, there has always been real sincerity, introspection and substance in their music too. 

The 1975 has always excelled in their meticulously curated design and aesthetics. The band's creative direction has always been so sharp and innovative. Particularly with their stage design, they have always been a step above the rest. The Still...At Their Very Best tour was no different. When it was time for the show to start, the black curtain covering the stage fell and revealed a fully furnished two-tiered house underneath. Later a neon sign was brought down that illuminated the stage with the words "Still...At Their Very Best". The colorful lighting and visuals shown on the screen behind the house also looked stunning and made it such an immersive and all-encompassing experience. 

At the start of the show, Matty was sitting with his back to the crowd watching a TV alone in the middle of the stage. Then he got up, turned on a lamp and sat down at the piano to start playing the opening notes of the first song, aptly titled "The 1975", the introduction of their recent album Being Funny In A Foreign Language. I literally had tears in my eyes during this song, there is no other quite like it and I get chills every time I hear it. I never really heard a song quite like it before, it captures so many of the feelings of the current society we live in on a large scale as well as the effects it has on Matty himself, as well as the listener. I think about the lyrics to this song so often, it is so thought provoking and really serves as such an important snapshot of the time in history we are all currently living through. Even though we were in an arena with 20,000 other people, it still felt like such an intimate moment that gives me chills just thinking about. The first part of the show especially touched on a lot of complex topics involving his own personal experiences, to the greater concept of the American Dream and dismantling what that really means, especially the direct effects it has on the youth of today. "You see, I can't sleep 'cause the American Dream, has been buyin' up all of my self-esteem" is performed with such passion and urgency in voice and I have been thinking about that line ever since I first heard it. On top of all of that, being at the center of it all in New York City, in the world's most famous arena, felt like such a surreal and full-circle moment to get to hear a song like this live for the first time. 

"You're making an aesthetic out of not doing well, and mining all the bits of you you think you can sell whilst the fans are on", is one lyric that has also really stuck with me ever since I heard this album. The societal commentary about what it's like to be growing up, specifically in America, when he sings "whimsical, political, liberal, with young people as collateral" is also something that has stood out to me ever since I first heard it too, followed by the repetition of "I'm sorry if you're living and you're seventeen" over and over at the end of the track.

It was just Matty alone at the piano for a few verses of the song, as the rest of the band casually walked on the stage. As each person took their place, there was a close-up of them shown on the screens and their names underneath as if it was the intro of a sitcom. The interactions between the band and the several videographers scattered throughout the stage in white lab coats were also such a big part of the show, I would love for them to one day release the footage of this night because it really would make a great concert film. You could also see up close all of the small details of the stage design too, which was such a crucial part of the performance. 

The first song ends with the repetition of the lines, "It's about time, and this is what it looks like", which keeps building and building until the end. It was the perfect way to start the show. The band then transitioned into "Looking For Somebody (To Love)", which is such a fun song to hear live, despite the much darker lyrical undertones. If you're familiar with any of The 1975's past music, it often has the juxtaposition of an amazing high-energy sound paired with a deeper, often darker, meaning behind the song. It gives new meaning to the lyric "its about time and this is what it looks like", for them to then follow it up with a song that is a commentary on toxic masculinity and the horrors of American gun violence. The 1975 has always been able to put all of the difficult to explain fears and underlying feelings of what it's like growing up in this world into words. They often do it through the lens of the politics of America too, which is so interesting because as an English band, they are kind of just observers to it a lot of the time. It is such an interesting perspective that they provide through their music. 

During the first part of the show, the played mostly songs from Being Funny In A Foreign Language. Every song that they played from that album was so incredible and it was such a dream to hear it live finally. They all sounded absolutely amazing too. "Happiness", "Oh Caroline", and "I'm In Love With You" in particular are so much fun and the energy is so amazing live. I love that album so much. It truly felt like those songs were made to be performed live, it translated so well to the stage. I also loved the interaction between the band and the homey design of the stage too, it created such a cool and casual atmosphere. 

"Part of the Band" was another one of my most anticipated to hear live. I love that song so much, it has quickly become one of my favorites they have ever made. Much like the intro track named "The 1975", "Part of the Band" also serves as such a unique snapshot of the current point in history we are living through right now, as well as a look into where the band is at creatively and where Matty is at personally in his own journey. It was the first song they released last year leading up to their fifth studio album. Some of my favorite lyrics ever come from "Part of the Band", of course the line "I know some vaccinista tote bag chic barista, sitting east of their communista keisters" is one that stands out and is something only Matty Healy could write. The outro is one of the best verses of the entire album: "Am I ironically woke? The butt of my joke? Or am I just some post-coke average skinny bloke calling his ego imaginition?" And closes out the song with a lyric about his sobriety, "I've not picked up that in a thousand four hundred days and nine hours and sixteen minutes, babe, it's kind of my daily iteration".

In the first half of the show they also played a few of their classics in between some of their newer material. I loved hearing "Sincerity Is Scary", I have always felt it is such an underrated song in their discography but captures so much of what makes this band so special at their core. "Change Of Heart" is another song that I will forever love. It is such a timeless classic and one that I have played countless times since I first heard it years ago. Every song they played that night from their sophomore album was such a dream to hear live again, it brings back so many memories for me and continues to serve as such an important album in my life. 

A song that I have been dreaming to hear live since I was fifteen years old is "Robbers", one of my favorites ever. When I saw them perform in 2017, for whatever reason they didn't play it and I have been waiting for the moment to come ever since to get to experience the magic of it live! This year marks a decade since it was released and every time I hear it, it always takes me back to the time in my life when I first started listening to The 1975. I was about fifteen years old then and still to this day, every time I listen to this song the same feelings come flooding back whenever I hear those opening chords of this song. For the first time in years, Matty also wore the classic button down floral shirt that he wore in the "Robbers" music video - it was such an incredible moment that I can't believe I got to witness!  It just represents so much to me and "Robbers" has been such a formative song to me in my life. "Robbers" is a song that has lyrically echoed through so much of their music ever since it was released and has been referenced in one way or another on nearly every album. It's storyline connects so much of their music together in such a profound way. It really did feel so life changing to hear this one live, I will never forget singing (or screaming) along to lines like "she's begging you to stay, stay, stay" and of course one of the most iconic lyrics ever, "she says babe, you look so coooool" with thousands of other people who have the same passion for it as I do. The feeling was inexplicable, I'll never forget it. 

After "Robbers", the lights dimmed and Matty went to the top of the roof of the set house where the audience could only see his silhouette. His dad, Tim Healy, came on stage to sing "All I Need To Hear". It was such a beautiful moment that was no-doubt very emotional for both of them to be performing together. It was one of the many very special moments of this show. 

After they played their gorgous song "fallingforyou", they played another one of my most anticipated of the night, "About You". That song is meant to serve as a sequel to "Robbers" in a lot of ways, with the narrator looking back on this relationship years later and wondering to himself, "do you think I have forgotten about you?" and continues to "hold on and hope that we'll find our way back in the end". Releasing a song like that nearly a decade after "Robbers" felt so full circle to get a sense of closure with those characters. My reaction the first time I heard "About You" last year was like no other, I still feel just as strongly about it over a year later too every time I listen to it.

Carly Holt, who performs on the original studio recording was there to perform her verse live, which was so incredible. Usually a member of their backing band performs this part during the live shows, but I couldn't believe Carly was there to perform it herself! She is the wife of the band's guitarist, Adam Haan, and that part of the song is one of the most memorable of their entire discography. She sings on the bridge; "There was something about you that now I can't remember, it's the same damn thing that made my heart surrender, and I'll miss you on the train, I'll miss you in the morning, I never know what to think about". The way they were able to capture all of the energy and emotion that is in a song as classic as "Robbers" and somehow turn it into something new, fresh and modern makes "About You" such a masterpiece. Also, hearing both of these songs live for the first time in one night is something I will never recover from, it was amazing!  It is one of my favorite songs ever and I was so happy to hear it live with all of them together. It is so rare for that to happen and again is something I couldn't believe I got to be there to witness! It was such a special and rare moment. 

There were several theatrical interludes throughout the show, one being Matty's interaction with a nude wax mannequin of himself on the couch to the side of the stage. It seems that at each show it plays a different part of the set, I've seen it often be used on the B stage in particular. However, no two shows are exactly alike, so you never really know what to expect going into each performance. 

I've seen many theories as to what it represents, I interpret it as being a commentary of not only the intensity of which he performs on stage, but also the media's portrayal of him making him totally vulnerable - leaving Matty both literally and figuratively naked. As a performer, he really does bare it all for the audience, which was also one of my initial thoughts behind what this represents. The mannequin stayed on the couch for the duration of the show. It is quite a nightmarish encounter that is captivating to say the least. 

There was also TVs stacked in the middle of the stage, which Matty would be sitting on the ground watching closely, with his back to the crowd, same as it was as the show began. On this night, the TVs flashed between videos of everything from stock videos of nature, to news coverage of controversial public figures and politicians, to compilations of footage of the band over the years, to several angles of their controversial performance the year prior at Madison Square Garden. On that night in 2022, Matty famously ate a piece of raw meat on stage in front of everyone during the "Consumption" part of the show. As this was shown, he sat on the ground with his back to the audience watching the TVs, often placing his hand on the screen in front of him. At the end of it he kept getting closer and closer to the TV and eventually crawled through the screen himself. After he climbed through the TV screen, they showed a compilation of the band's journey over the past twenty years for the first time. 

After a few minutes, he went through the crowd and over to the B-stage on the other end of the arena. The few songs he performed on that stage were among my favorite of the entire night. To close off the first part of the show, he performed an intimate, acoustic rendition of "Be My Mistake" alone on the stage that was meant to resemble a patch of grass. Flowers surrounded him on the ground, which really added to the beauty of the overall set design. I would've loved for him to also perform "When We Are Together", especially as it references New York City in the lyrics, but hopefully next time!

Again, it felt like we were in a small, intimate venue, not a huge arena. The photos I took of this moment are among some of my favorites of all-time. The expansion of the stage to include this patch of grass in the middle of the floor is one of the biggest additions that they made between the 2023 tour and 2022 tour. I haven't seen many other artists really play with the space and expand their production value in the way The 1975 has with their Still... At Their Very Best Tour. Once again, the stage design was top-notch. He was then lowered back into the patch of grass and made his way back to the main stage while Polly Money, the background vocalist and guitarist, performed a solo rendition of "Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America". It is such a beautiful song, which was originally a duet with Phoebe Bridgers on their 2020 album

That song closed the first part of the performance, after a brief moment Matty came back to the mic and said "You are watching The 1975, still at their veryyyyy best! Welcome to part two bitches!"

One of my favorite moments of the entire night was during the first song of the second act, "If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know)". It was actually one of my favorite songs I have ever heard live at any concert. It was so much fun and the energy in the room was so electric. The band sounded amazing during this song too. The saxophone solo was such a highlight of it as well! 

The energy of New York City never disappoints, it is my absolute favorite city in the world. Madison Square Garden is also my favorite venue to see shows at and I've been so lucky to have seen so many of my favorite artists through the years there. I was feeling the ground shake so much throughout the night, which doesn't always happen at every show, but during this song in particular it really felt like an earthquake with everyone jumping and dancing and having the best time. The most comparable is from all of the Harry Styles shows I've seen there, which again feels like an actual earthquake is happening! That is not an exaggeration! If you've ever seen either of their shows at MSG, you'll know exactly what I mean!

I loved how many songs they performed from A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships and Notes On A Conditional Form too - there are so many highlights from those albums that are just so much fun live. "TOOTIME" is another one of my favorites from their 2018 album and I loved that they played it during the second part of the show. Visually, the stage with all of the neon lights and kinetic text that covered the screens were so bright and colorful, they fit the vibe of the song so perfectly. The autotune mic Matty uses during this song is so funny too. 

I have been anticipating hearing "It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)" for years live and it was such an incredible moment of the night. I have waited six years to yell the "selling petrol" part of that song at a concert and it was amazing! That song, as well as the music video, will always be one of my favorites they have ever made. 

They also played several classics from their first album like "Girls" and "Chocolate", which were also amazing to hear live again. Those songs never get old for me, I love that entire album so much. I will forever love their sophomore album too, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful, Yet So Unaware Of It too. As I said before, their first two albums defined such a specific period of my life and continues to be among my all-time favorites. Although they only played three songs that night from their sophomore album, they were some of my favorites ever that I will never get tired of hearing. "Somebody Else" is such a classic, I will always love that song. Plus the "get someone you love, get someone you need" part is so fun live. 

A staple of their live shows has always been "The Sound". I will never ever forget how truly magical it felt when they performed that song at the first show I went to as the encore. It was literally life-changing and I think back to that moment in my life all the time. All of these years later it is still an essential for all of their shows, it just wouldn't be the same without it. If you've also seen them live before you'll know what I mean, it is such an special moment. The energy is insane, everyone is just so joyous and singing along so loud. Before the final verse when the instrumental break starts, there is a tradition of Matty yelling "1,2,1,2 fucking jump!" and immediately the ground is rumbling with everyone from the floor up to the top of the arena jumping up and down together. There was something so beautiful about seeing the sea of people on the floor all jumping up and down in unison like that. Music is so powerful in that way to be able to connect all of us together in those fleeting moments. 

Right before the last few songs of the night Matty took another talking break, which is usually the part of the show in which he talks about current events or topics that have been weighing on his mind. These are often the moments of the show that are deemed as "controversial" and are already viral on social media by the next morning. Although sometimes it's unhinged, it's often very funny and more so meant in a way that is to stir up a discussion about whatever topic he is talking about that night. This show was in mid-November, which was soon after the year's Grammy nominees were announced. The 1975 didn't receive any nominations, despite releasing one of the most successful and critically acclaimed albums of the year. It is also arguably their best work yet too. "The fact that we didn't get nominated for a Grammy is a fucking outrage. The reason people don't say that is because it is not a very tasteful thing to say, but I am way past tasteful. Are you fucking mental? Brief InquiryI Like It When You Sleep - nothing! ... I mean "About You" on it's own merits deserves a Grammy. I mean I don't really care that much, but it just winds me up... You know what I'm not being self-celebratory," he said to the crowd, "you gotta fucking believe in yourself". While I don't really think the Grammy's are the be-all and end-all in terms of being successful in the music industry, for a band as massive and as influential as The 1975 to have never gotten that recognition is also insane at the same time. However, some of my favorite artists ever were never nominated for a Grammy, The 1975 being at the top of that list - but at the end of the day it doesn't really matter anyway. Awards don't affect the importance or the value of the art itself, or the audience's connection to it. I will go more in-depth about my thoughts on this in my review after the 2024 ceremony, but considering some of the questionable nominees that the Recording Academy has chosen to celebrate year after year despite not only releasing sub-par music, but also actually being really terrible people at the same time is enough reason to not give that honor the same weight and validity it once represented.

To end it he said, "Tell me, literally tell me one band in the past four years that could do what we're gonna do in the next three minutes". Then the opening of one of the greatest songs ever started playing, "Love It If We Made It". I was blown away in that moment because that is such a powerful statement that rings so true. I know I say a lot of the songs they played at this show are my favorites ever (I have a tendency of doing that, but I really do mean it every time!) but nothing compares to "Love It If We Made It". That song is one that I look at as one of the formative songs of my life as well as one of the most important anthems of the society we live in. No other song even comes close to doing what "Love It If We Made It" does and hearing it live in this setting was truly such a special moment for me. 

This song is directly referencing a lot of the current events and headlines between 2016 and 2018, when this song was released. At the time, I just finished my first year of college studying Journalism and I was just really starting to become more politically aware of what is really going on in the world and why standing up for what you believe in matters. That was just such a weird time, especially as a teenager just being exposed to all of that for the first time was a lot, to put it plainly. Little did we all know it was all about to get a whole lot worse in just a couple of years! But this song really did put so much into perspective for me and taught me so much. Still to this day after listening to it countless times, it is always so moving and so thought provoking. The poetry really is in the streets and there is beauty all around us if you're willing to look for it. Matty has once called it "the gem of hope amongst all of the rubble" in an interview with Genius where he broke down every lyric from this song in 2018. I recommend checking out that video because he explains the importance of this song better than I ever could. It just continues to mean more and more to me with each passing year. I also love the visuals projected onto the screens as well. Matty also did the original choreography to the song too, which he hasn't done live since the original A Brief Inquiry era, so that was also so iconic to witness! Everyone in the crowd was going so crazy for that!

I had tears in my eyes during this song, there was something so powerful about everyone screaming "I'd love it if we made it" over and over. I will never forget that. It is such a special song, and if it didn't already happen before 2018, this is the song that forever solidified The 1975 as not only one of the most important bands in my own life, but of this entire generation. Like it or not, no one else could ever make the music they make. 

The second to last song they played was one of their first ever singles, "Sex". It was such an iconic performance and is a great example of why The 1975 is such an incredible live band. There is no one else like them. The flashing lights, heavy guitars and drums were just so wild and electrifying. I loved every moment of it and I never wanted the night to end! 

For the final song, Matty, Ross, and Adam went through the crowd back to the B-stage for the last song, "People", while the rest of the band was on the main stage. I wish George could have been on that stage with them too! The lights were flashing bright neon yellow, while the guitars and drums were going so hard, it was so awesome. This song is everything, you need to go listen to it if you haven't already. It really is such a stand-out in their discography, a true battle cry for the youth with intense, heavy rock instrumentation. Everyone in the crowd and on the stage were going so wild. The opening lines of "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! It's Monday morning and we've only got a thousand of them left" was screamed with such intensity and real urgency. I love that song so much, in a lot of ways it really goes in tandem with the message of "Love It If We Made It" for me. They were also so ahead of their time with the line, "I don't like going outside, so bring me everything here"! Nothing will ever compare to that performance; it was such an amazing and electrifying way to end the show. The pictures I took during this song are among my favorites I've ever taken at a concert. I really wanted to capture the wild energy of the band and the crowd with those!

Everyone screaming the words "people like people, want alive people, young, surprised people, stop fucking with the kids!" over and over was a moment I will never forget. At the end, Matty screamed the final words so hard that he literally fell over on the stage. And with that, they were lowered back down into the square patch of grass and the show was officially over! 

Based on what the band has been saying over the past few months, this tour seems to be one of their last for a while. I will forever cherish the memories of this show and look forward to seeing them again one day, always at their very best!

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! If you're interested in reading more about The 1975, check out my 10 year anniversary review of their self-titled debut album, as well as my review of their most recent release, Being Funny In A Foreign Language, linked here and below. 

-Melissa ♡

All photos are my own!

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