The ultimate dream for most young indie bands that are trying to break in to the British music scene, is playing Reading & Leeds. It’s no Glastonbury but the twin festivals are famous (and infamous) nevertheless, hosting a variety of special performances over the years. Reading, the elder of the two sites, has been taking place since the early 70’s and is also the bigger counterpart, hosting 87,000 people when the records were last published back in 2011.
The 1975 are no rookies when it comes to playing at the prestigious Richfield Avenue, having featured on the lineup several times now across a number of stages. 2016’s edition of the festival saw the Manchester four piece headline the BBC Radio 1/NME stage, playing to a huge crowd of devout fans who had chosen them over Biffy Clyro playing on main stage.
Many fans expected something special from The 1975’s set, such as a sneak peak of the new set list they are rumoured to be debuting on their US and UK tours later this year, but were instead given what is widely known as the band’s ‘standard festival set’. Despite not pulling out any tricks from their sleeves, the performance was still stellar, and welcomed drummer George Daniel back for his first UK appearance since returning from an injury to the shoulder. Obvious expectations were met the likes of ‘Love Me’, which The 1975 opened with, ‘Girls’ and ‘Chocolate’, and finished up with ‘Sex’, which saw them go out with an almighty bang. Sure, they didn’t have the pyrotechnics and fireworks that Biffy Clyro had due to the confines of the tent which holds the BBC Radio 1/NME stage is, but Matty Healy’s stage presence alone is enough to make up for it.
During their performance, Healy announced that the band will eventually head back in to the studio to record their third album—the follow-up to this year’s I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It—and then will headline Reading & Leeds’ main stages. It’s a hefty claim to make, but Healy declared it with such confidence that it’s the easiest thing in the world to imagine a band so well put together being one of three center pieces for the entire weekend. There’s no telling when it’ll be, however, though 2018 seems plausible.
Though everyone in The 1975 is slick, professional and talented to boot (including those who have not yet been named: bassist Ross Macdonald and guitarist Adam Hann), one person in particular deserves an honourable mention. John Waugh, the band’s touring saxophonist, really put the icing on top of an already excellent show with his impeccably played solos. Not a single note was missed (and if there was, it wasn’t noticable), playing his heart out and taking advantage to play another loop when Healy stood in front of him, on camera, and demanded he do it one more time.
The 1975 played for an hour only—shorter than they are used to, but there is no denying they made use of the time they had to work with. Fans were still left in complete awe as they closed up, having performed a set that paid homage to not only their recent album with songs like ‘A Change Of Heart’ and ‘Loving Someone’, but their eponymous debut that put them on the map back in 2013. Yes, The 1975 have relative success and fame, but their dedication to their fans and their absolute humility is a rarity. For that very reason they have one of the most diehard fan bases going—and that was apparent from the reactions of everyone standing in the Reading crowd alone.