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The 1975 in Manila: They weren't kidding—they’re ‘At Their Very Best’

By Grace Diez Published May 07, 2023 5:38 pm Updated May 07, 2023 11:36 pm

No passion was lost between British pop-rock band The 1975 and Filipino music fans even if the pandemic set the two apart for more than two years.

When local concert organizer Pulp Live World announced that the band’s coming back to Manila, eager fans madly scrambled for desired seats during the online ticketing. Due to the overwhelming response to The 1975’s At Their Very Best tour, the organizer added another show and made it a two-day event at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Like any proper The 1975 stan who missed the band after the long and excruciating wait to see them live again, I’ve decided to snap up tickets for the two-day event. The verdict? Absolutely no regrets—100% and high key likely to do this costly stunt again. 

At Their Very Best is a tour that aims to support The 1975’s fifth studio album Being Funny in a Foreign Language. Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Wallice served as the opening act for The 1975’s Matty Healy, Adam Hann, Ross MacDonald, and George Daniel.

The 1975 bassist Ross MacDonald

There’s no shortage of drama for The 1975’s At Their Very Best tour as the initial run in its UK and US leg saw lead singer and rhythm guitarist Matty Healy spark viral tweets and mild controversies for either eating raw meat, pleasuring himself onstage or kissing fangirls (with consent, of course) all as part of the performance.

Here in Manila, the shows were decidedly less provocative but stimulating nonetheless. The Filipino fans held their breath and collectively heaved a sigh of relief as The 1975 arrived in the city in time for its May 3 and 4 shows. 

The show opened with the screen displaying the acronym “ATPOAIM” which means “A Theatrical Performance of an Intimate Moment.” Theories abound as it’s either how they define their concert as performative and theatrical or it could be the title of an upcoming album. 

Drummer Producer George Daniel with the "ATPOAIM” graphic that means “A Theatrical Performance of an Intimate Moment"

While the fans were expecting a grand rockstar entrance from The 1975, Matty and the boys chose to arrive in an unexpectedly cute and funny way instead of riding motorized toy animals (the kind that kids ride) as they made their way to the stage, sending fans screaming and hysterically laughing. 

The show opened with upbeat songs mostly off their recent albums, with hits such as Looking for Somebody to Love, Happiness, Oh Caroline, If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know), I’m In Love With You, and fans even finally got to yell “Selling Petrol!” again with It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You). The band also treated the audience with fan favorites and classics like Robbers, fallingforyou, About You, Somebody Else, and more. 

At some point during the show, Matty preached about how there are so much mobile phones on live shows right now and while the clips could go viral on TikTok, he encouraged the audience to put the phones down for five minutes and enjoy the moment— “just you and me.” 

Matty also noted how he feels like they’re 10 times bigger than they should be whenever they’re here in Manila. Note that The 1975’s first-ever arena show in their entire career was actually held here in the Philippines at SM MOA Arena during their debut album era. We’re pretty much special to the band given the history.

As usual, one of the highly anticipated parts of the show was during The Sound stage where the band commands the audience to jump all together, dance like carefree beings, and enjoy the live experience to the hilt. Day 1 ended on a high note with “Sex” and “Give Yourself a Try.” No encore. I think they just wanted to end things differently and do away with encores. 

The 1975 lead guitarist Adam Hann

On Day 2 of the concert, social media basically exploded with Taylor Swift and Matty Healy dating rumors. The second night suddenly looked extra interesting. I imagined Matty still fast asleep, jetlagged and exhausted from the show, in his hotel room while the whole world feasted on this piece of news about his personal life.

The second show opened almost with the same fast-paced set of songs, but The 1975 definitely made some random changes on the setlist and treated fans to new songs to switch things up. Matty noticed a fan holding up a surprise song request banner and bantered with her to reveal the song requests: The City and Nana. The fans also screamed for She’s American. The band indulged the audience and gave in to the requests. 

Hot on the heels of Taylor Swift dating rumors, the band played the song request The City which, incidentally, was the song that Taylor played when she was a surprise guest of the band in their January concert. 

Matty did an intimate acoustic performance of Nana, a song he wrote for his grandmother who passed away. As he sang “I haven’t been feeling well, I think you can tell…,” he muttered “F—k. There’s a reason why I don’t play that one” as he visibly got emotional. He paused the heartbreaking performance to lecture a fan who kept screaming and told her to shut it and that fans shouldn’t do that because it’s distracting. Matty is clearly in his Tito era as this is the second night he had to preach and teach the audience proper live-show etiquette. 

The 1975 frontman Matty Healy

On a lighter note, the band playfully teased the audience as they sang a snippet of the Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way only to segue to another most requested song She’s American, which sent everyone into a frenzy and danced the night away. 

The powerful setlist went on as the Filipino fans went wild and clearly enjoyed the whole set. It was a mutual appreciation and admiration night as The 1975 expressed their gratitude to the Pinoys

“Manila has dibs on The 1975 because we were big here even before we were big in the UK,” Matty declares, clearly grateful for the overwhelming and loud love the Filipinos have for the band. 

The holy set of ending songs was replicated with the string of hits and favorites such as Love It If We Made It, a snippet of Guys, Be My Mistake, The Sound with its no-fail well-loved jumping sequence, Sex and Give Yourself a Try.

There is absolutely no need for encore with the kind of showmanship and superb performance that Matty, lead guitarist Adam, bassist Ross, and drummer George showcased. The 1975 knows their worth and the massive effort they put in to merit and confidently come up with the tour name. To sum up: The rumors are true and the tour lived up to its title—“At Their Very Best”—and we want more!