In the Mix gig was sheer bedlam
There was an air of insouciant coolness in Matt Healy’s gawkiness onstage. It was in the way he flipped his floppy mop of curls, the way he wriggled his knees as he plucked at his guitar, the way he broke into a klutzy jig as he shuffled about with his shoulders hunched. Or maybe, he was just in a state of perpetual high.
Either way, the 27-year-old lead vocalist of the British alternative rock band The 1975—main act of the recent “In the Mix” gig at the SM Mall of Asia Arena—didn’t have to do much to get the revelers, especially the young ladies, going. A cheeky smile here, a point to the rafters there, and it would be absolute bedlam.
The 1975 evoked a 1980s vibe with the steamy slow jam “Somebody Else.” In “Change of Heart,” the band weaved an ambiance that was melancholic and ethereal all at once; and in the pop ditties “Chocolate” and “Girls,” one that was infectiously sunny.
“Hello, Manila! Thank you so much… We’re The 1975, from Manchester in England,” Healy said, between drags from his cigarette whose smoke billowed, then dissolved, into the neon haze that shrouded him throughout the night.
If Healy was easygoing personified, Brendon Urie, the frontman of the American pop-punk group Panic! At the Disco, was a firecracker—loud, ferocious, in your face.
His set, culled from Panic!’s five albums, was a bouncy mishmash of rock, dance, glam and synth-pop, including “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time” and “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies.”
Dressed in a shiny blue jacket, a shirt in animal prints and a pair of form-fitting pants, he strutted and shimmied his way through the numbers with flamboyance and swagger reminiscent of Mick Jagger’s.
Now the only remaining original member of the group, which debuted in 2005, the 28-year-old music artist was electrifying as a live vocalist as he was a showman.
Urie can sing high and low. But the thing that never failed to make the crowd erupt into roars of approval was his piercing head tone—a shriek, almost—that he unleashed to show-stopping effect in “Hallelujah” and in his version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” in which his propensity for theatrics served him well.
Armed with a guitar, a fedora that has now become his signature and a voice that brimmed with emotions, James Bay delighted the eager audience with a down-to-earth set that offered reprieve from the bombast of the other acts.
Bay, a 25-year-old singer-songwriter from the United Kingdom, delivered some of the most impassioned singing of the night, as in his accessible folk-rock compositions like “When We Were on Fire,” a bluesy song with a marching beat. In “Need the Day to Break,” Bay displayed tenderness.
The three-time Grammy nominee likewise showed his proficiency with his instrument, letting the guitar wail like a hurting beast, in “Get Out While You Can.”
While most of the bands who held court at “In the Mix” were geared toward fans in their teens or early 20s, concertgoers in their late 20s and 30s did have something to cheer about: Third Eye Blind, one of the few alternative rock bands from the 1990s still active in the touring circuit today.
The band closed its set and kicked the nostalgia trip into full gear, with its most popular anthem, “Semi-Charmed Life,” whose burnished, sprightly pop sound belied the dark subject it delves into—drug addiction.
Mounted by MMI Live, “In the Mix” also featured the British punk band Twin Pines and American musician Elle King.
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