With stiff competition from fellow Finsbury Park headliners Pulp and Jamie T, The 1975 took to the stage on Sunday night to play to the biggest audience of their career.
The band have been touring their latest record Being Funny in a Foreign Language for the best part of a year now, having foreshadowed the calibre of live performance to come as last-minute headliners at Reading and Leeds Festival last August. Today they perform an alternative iteration of the At Their Very Best tour, and with an extended set time, are able to incorporate highlights and hidden gems from their never-waning back catalogue.
Opening with ‘The 1975 (BFIAFL version)’, the crowd cling on to the immediacy of its LCD Soundsystem-lifted piano riff. The song is something of a manifesto for the band, encapsulating the spirit of The 1975. “It’s about time…” sings paragon frontman Matty Healy, adorned in a lab coat and glasses, which he later removes to reveal his now-signature shirt and tie combo. Unlike the band’s January tour, the Finsbury show feels less structured and Healy notably breaks character, though the chain-smoking and red-wine-swigging still subsists.
Their set encompasses songs from each era of the band’s fruitful career, leaning particularly on their latest release, though several tracks from mercurial sophomore I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it are unearthed, with an impassioned rendition of ‘The Ballad of Me and My Brain’ and the playfully arrogant ‘Love Me’ electrifying the 45,000 strong crowd.
Tender and tear jerking moments are sprinkled throughout, along with sincere anecdotes from Healy. The first of these moments occurs when he invites his father, actor Tim Healy, to sing ‘All I Need to Hear’ and they embrace. He touches on the toll of touring a show that explores modern masculinity, with the controversial ‘Consumption’ interlude in which Healy devours a raw steak before performing press-ups in front of TV screens bearing the image of figures like Andrew Tate and Rishi Sunak – an amusing satirisation of misplaced machismo – concluding the Finsbury show.
A special mention is given to friend and fellow musician Lewis Capaldi, with Healy sharing that the singer checked up on him the day he cancelled his tour due to poor mental health, encouraging an outpouring of love from the audience. He also uses this opportunity to thank his fellow band members for being so supportive of one another, later teasing 2020 track ‘Guys’ (‘Yeah, the moment that we started a band / Was the best thing that ever happened […] You guys are the best thing that ever happened to me’) before smoothly segueing into ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’. The anthemic ‘About You’, the crowning jewel of Being Funny In A Foreign Language, with its swirling string opening and a cameo from Carly Holt-Hann (wife of guitarist Adam Hann) goes down a storm with old and new fans alike.
Seemingly addressing past controversies, Healy confesses he would take back a handful of things he’s said, and a couple of songs in the process too. Setlist staples ‘Somebody Else’, ‘The Sound’, and ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’ transpire in the second half, with their synth-heavy grooves inspiring a dance-along beneath the setting sun. Meanwhile glorious renditions of first album favourites ‘Sex’ and ‘Robbers’ spur the crowd on, hungry for more.
Ending on a high, The 1975 erupt into punk-inspired ‘People’, with George Daniel giving a masterful demonstration on drums and Hann’s guitar licks as energised as ever. After two and a quarter hours of hits and exemplary showmanship, the band depart from the stage leaving Healy to munch his meat before crawling into one of the televisions stacked upon the stage. To quote Mr Healy himself, The 1975 really do just keep getting better and better.