Fourth Annual Pandora Holiday Live Brings Brits to Manhattan

By Jordan Reynolds, Entertainment Editor

In theory, The 1975 and Bastille are two very similar bands. Both are from the UK, both headed by a lead singer with a distinctive voice quality and both resonate with alt-pop fans. The similarities, however, stop there. The two bands, along with opener Bishop Briggs, appeared for the fourth annual Pandora Holiday Live on Tuesday night, and it was a spectacle to be seen. With a free coat check, complimentary custom-screen printed shirts from Express and Insta-worthy backdrops every few feet, Pier 36 was transformed into a winter wonderland.

Dan Smith, the lead singer of Bastille, has a certain way about him. Onstage, he had no boundaries, writhing his limbs and infiltrating the crowd during “Flaws,” a staple moment of all their shows. His voice, meanwhile, held an almost angelic tone throughout every song, and the overall result was an endearing talent who commanded the stage effortlessly. It’s hard to overstate the quality of Smith’s voice — his performance was identical to the recorded versions of their songs — but more than that was the earnestness that he summoned to each note.

An affection for utilizing the stage in its entirety took over the show, as Smith banged on a drum during “Pompeii,” sat down next to two wire sculptures of men onstage and climbed on everything in his path along the way. One thing that was never in question was his commitment to the performance. It was clear that he was having as good of a time as the crowd was. 

Photo by Anna Letson, Multimedia Editor

Bastille was shortly followed by The 1975, and few things can be said about Matty Healy that have not already been said. He drank wine and smoked a cigarette onstage while bopping around in a Christmas sweater the way only Matty Healy can. The way he performed was nearly lackadaisical, but there was an undercurrent of purpose and deliberation that was especially noticeable during “If I Believe You,” during which the hard drumbeat and flashes of light were in perfect unison with Healy’s choreography.

Healy’s voice could be considered whiny by some, but that’s all part of the act. His lack of perfectionism inevitably comes off as cool and unbothered, which appears to be exactly the aim. He shook his untamed curls and mimed his way through instrumentals, and the crowd ate it all up. As a performer, he was mesmerizing to watch with barely any effort, and that’s part of the reason why the band works so well. Their unique style of rock-pop-jazz would be impossible to pull off without Healy’s voice to bring it all together, a fact that was made even more obvious in a live performance.

Both bands contributed to an extraordinary show, and the next Pandora holiday concert is sure to have a hard time beating this one.

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