Live review: The 1975, The Neighbourhood, Wolf Alice at Academy, 8/2/14

1609665_587407244671311_831595187_nIn 1975 North Vietnam finally overwhelmed its Southern rival, Muhammed Ali defeated Joe Frazier in Manila, Bruce Springsteen released Born to Run and classic rock began to buckle under its own portentousness with punk still twelve months away.

Tonight’s heroes’ influences fall rather closer to home however – songs in this evening’s set nod to The Killers, Coldplay, U2 – all acts bonded by their boundless ambition and their ability to forge a mass connection.

First though North London’s Wolf Alice deliver a short set of off-kilter indie-grunge.

Their duo of infectious singles ‘Fluffy’ and ‘Bros’ are reliably catchy but it remains to be seen whether they can deliver on their fearsome online hype as the Academy’s typically poor sound dampens the impact of Ellie Roswell’s vocals, wreathing her in layers of fuzz better suited to My Bloody Valentine than Courtney Love.

With blasting strobes and a stark, dramatic production, Californian indie rockers The Neighbourhood know how to make an entry.

They’re at their best when bass and drums trade hip-hop rhythms but for the most part their sound is limp and predictable, lightweight indie-pop.

Vocalist Jesse Rutherford shimmies atop his monitor and it’s clear that in his mind at least The Neighbourhood are already superstars.

Though many of their songs are distinctly forgettable their Tumblr-friendly calling card ‘Sweater Weather’ proves a useful ace in the hole.

The crowd respond amiably and there are a few bobbing hands in an audience, whose lack of years means that tonight lairy behaviour is kept to a minimum.

Filtering Maroon 5’s pop nous through a social media friendly look and sound they seem to have hit a winning formula but you struggle to see real musos buying Jesse Rutherford’s schtick.

Opening with the solid and fashionable electro pulse of ‘The City’, The 1975 have risen rapidly from Manchester school kids to indie-rock standard bearers, as comfortable on Match of the Day montages and teenage bedroom walls as Radio 1 playlists and summer festival stages.

The first half of the set sees the four-piece despatch competent but unspectacular indie-rock to an undemanding crowd but by the time they hit a muscular ‘Heart Out’ they seem to kick into gear, delivering a series of winning pop-rock anthems reminiscent of Hot Fuss-era Killers or Phoenix at their most danceable.

Every movement by frontman Matt Healy unleashes screams from the predominantly female audience but there is something genuinely undeniable about tunes like ‘Sex’ and ‘Chocolate’ that send the crowd into paroxysms of ecstasy.

With their scratchy riffs and bratty vocals The 1975 are young, tuneful and handsome; it remains to be seen if they’ll be as long-lived as the bands they so shamelessly ape but for

now they’re adept at moving hearts even if heads remain a mystery to them.

More photos

Words: Max Sefton
Photos: Iain Scott

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