This is how it starts. Whenever The 1975 kick off a new era, it’s not just a case of plugging in a familiar ride and watching the results spin off in every direction. They’re a force who’ve come to define the past decade of British music. Simply trying to name another who’ve come close to having the same influence and presence is a futile exercise.
When it comes to The 1975 at Reading, there’s something even more special in the air. The fact that, less than a month ago, their headline set wasn’t in the diary makes it feel even more The 1975 than usual. Whereas in 2019, their crowning appearance as a Reading bill-topper felt like the culmination of a journey, 2022 proves a night where one of the best to do it ride their white chargers into frame to not only save the day – but light the fireworks on their next chapter. It’s like it was written in the stars.
While we’ve been teased with forthcoming fifth album ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’ for a while now, tonight at Reading is The 1975 At Their Very Best. Like there’s ever been anything different. Taking on the feat of closing one of the biggest festivals on the planet is something that would daunt most, but for The 1975 it’s destiny.
“It’s just fucking bangers,” declares Matty Healy two songs in – and he’s not wrong. Declared as a 1975 “greatest hits” by the man himself, what follows is a run through a discography unrivalled in its current cultural resonance. ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ rolls into ‘Love Me’. Then into ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Me & You Together Song’. Then ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’, and from there, the night is theirs. Nodding to their black-and-white, self-titled era throughout, if there’s a celebration of the road travelled so far, then it comes tonight. “This is one of our favourite places in the world,” shouts Matty, leading a band who, at this point, play by their own rules and watch as the world follows.
Any issues with the stage volume are thrown to one side as Matty states, “Let’s pay the fine and play it really loud”. Recent post-pandemic setlist addition ‘Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)’ grooves, while ‘Robbers’ sees the voices of a Sunday night at Reading reach top-tier levels. ‘A Change Of Heart’ and ‘Paris’ (introduced by Matty as “arguably the best 1975 song”) are but indicators of the sheer scale of the band they’ve become. Whereas Reading 2019 felt like their step into the top division, tonight feels like a jaw-dropping spectacle of The 1975 firmly cemented at the top of their game.
Although the greatest hits light a fuse, the pair of tasters into ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’ we’re presented with tonight hint at a newfound understanding of what The 1975 are, and, most importantly, what they can be. ‘Happiness’ is met with just as wild a reaction as the hits, while ‘I’m In Love With You’ already screams out as the sort of anthem that’ll get tattooed on countless people from the moment it drops.
It’s a set that, last up on a Sunday, sweeps away any sense of anything we’ve seen before. What should be the closing curtain on one of the biggest festivals on the circuit becomes The 1975 Show. From the mascara-soaked tears of ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ to the ripped-raw drive of ‘Love It If We Made It’ and the desperate, feral clawing of ‘People’ – it truly is the most incredible spectacle. ‘The Sound’ definitively shuts down any last questions as pogoing masses ripple through Reading’s fields before ‘Sex’ and ‘Give Yourself A Try’ crown out the night. There’s no doubt that not only are The 1975 back, but they’re more focused and hungry than ever before.
At this point, four albums in, it feels silly to suggest that The 1975 get better and better, but tonight at Reading is your favourite band cast through a different lens. It’s one we may have thought we were looking through already, but only when laid out in such stark focus is it apparent just how important and vital they’ve become. It’s not about them slotting into a festival bill at the last minute, but defining the entire weekend – no matter the scale and lustre of any other headliners that adorn the bill. This is a band where special doesn’t feel enough. It’s The 1975, At Their Very Best. It’s how it starts. It couldn’t be any other way. Now, let the show begin…