The 1975’s prior touring campaigns have concentrated on the role social media plays in our lives and the weight of technology that we find ourselves under, depicted by monolithic LED walls, floating cubes, and a 11m-wide treadmill. This time around, maximalism has made way for storytelling, as the production spotlights the type of content we consume through these screens and the prevailing confusion between masculinity, sexuality and politics. The 1975: At Their Very Best takes this divisive content, which for the most part is challenging and uncomfortable to acknowledge in person, and places it in front of thousands of live music fans in venues across the globe each night.
At First Direct Arena – fittingly a venue based in a city home to The 1975’s first ever live show – TPi went behind the scenes to discover the inner workings of this complex production.
Production Manager, Josh Barnes explained that when the band returned to the touring circuit post-pandemic, they placed an emphasis on being “more live”. He furthered: “The band wanted to break conventions to present an intimate, homely, soft furnished, warmly lit show that entices the connection of the audience.”
In addition to the band, sessions playersintegral to the recording of 2022s Being Funny In A Foreign Language joined the fold to create a larger, live show and remove elements from tracks. “This is a jazz-based approach, with no two nights the same. Although we still run tracks with timecode to sync with the visuals, lighting and video, as well as scene changes and cues for click tracks for actions that happen on stage, there are still gaps and moments within songs where the band can extend an intro of a chorus,” he reported.
Routing is a major challenge for Barnes. “We have a lot of shows with not much time in between them,” he stated. “We’ve also got high expectations for making sure we provide the best show possible for all audiences, so trying to get everything to the right places, on time and on budget as normal, is a big challenge.”
The team solves this problem by working closely with trusted vendors – Beat the Street, Christie Lites, CSE Radiotek, EFM Global Logistics, Eighth Day Sound (a Clair Global company), PRG, Reverb, Road Ramps, SafeTour, Sarah’s Kitchen, TAIT and Transam Trucking with rehearsals at Rock Lititz in the US and LH2 Studios in the UK.
“As we move across all markets, we require global support, so we use vendors who are proven in the market for their networks and share a like-minded ethos,” Barnes said. Tour Manager, Maarten Cobbaut – who was supported by Tour Assistant, Lien De Lentdecker and Tour Accountant, Seb Satchell – has been with the band for eight years, and shared some of his major challenges.
“There is much more paperwork involved with Brexit, and as soon as you go to Ireland, there are carnet issues. You have to deal with the same expensive and time-consuming processes that you had to deal with 20 years ago. Everything has risen in price – you can easily add 25% to every pre-pandemic budget. Thankfully, this tour is more sustainable than past tours, and fits with where the band is at creatively.” Barnes – who was assisted by Production Coordinator, Judit Matyasy and Production Assistant, Kerry Harris – highlighted relationships with account handlers as vital to overcoming the state of play.
“One of the new vendors we’re working with on this run is PRG Projects, which created the scenic design. We have a part-purchase, part-rental agreement with them, so we will only ship the custom pieces that we need to and they can integrate into their standard decking on each side of the Atlantic – which has allowed us to make the move from the US in December through to the UK in January efficiently and cost effectively.”