Later on tonight, The Cure, Tool and Kylie Minogue are all headlining Rock Werchter. It’s easy to forget what year it is. The 1975 playing an early afternoon slot on the main stage further adds to the confusion, but from the second the latest iteration of the band’s self-titled opener hops out the speakers, it feels like the razor sharp present.
Away from the safety of arena headline shows full of The ’75 faithful, and with their production stripped back to a lone light up box, you might assume that the band we see today are somehow lesser than the the force of nature we’ve come to believe in. However, you’d be very wrong indeed. With a knowing grin, they kick into the rattling ‘Give Yourself A Try’ and it’s glorious business as usual. Constantly reaching new heights of power, a couple of missing video screens aren’t going to change that.
‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’ is still an absolute bop, given a shimmering new lease of life under the blistering sun, while the one-two charm of ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You) and ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ dance about the field, joyful and from the heart. It persistently feels like anything could happen as The 1975 make Rock Werchter theirs.
‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ has absolutely no right to be breaking hearts this early in the day, but its soaring sparkle and resilient fearlessness keep the energy up while ‘I Like America & America Likes Me’ is a constantly shifting war of rage and fear. It feels dangerous but still makes perfect sense on giant stages. The band are as giddy and playful as they are determined and by the time the closing charge of bangers comes tearing out the gate (‘Love It If We Made It’, ‘Chocolate’, ‘Sex’, ‘The Sound’), it’s pretty damn obvious. The 1975 are in a league of their own.
Words: Ali Shutler