The 1975 at Reading Festival. Matty Healey in front of a giant white neon rectangle.

The 1975
Live at Reading Festival

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It’s the ten-year anniversary of The 1975s stunning debut album, so it’s no surprise to find the stage decked out with a giant white neon rectangle. ‘The 1975’ intro music plays and the atmosphere is electric.

A suitably demolished-looking Matty Healy arrives in smart trousers and a black leather jacket and we’re straight into ‘The City’. Unlike their Glastonbury “gentlemen’s lounge” stage set-up, things are kept simple. A black stage and white lights with a little smoke pouring in from the sides. No rugs. No sofa. No lamp.

‘M.O.N.E.Y’ keeps the set list aligned to the album. This was an amazing soulful twist ten years ago and it’s still fresh now. There’s some chit-chat between songs with Healy sending some love to Lewis Capaldi. As the band prepares to play, the crowd know what’s coming and pre-empt ‘Chocolate’. When it kicks in, we all imagine we’ve got Healy’s moves for the duration of the song.

It gets wilder still as ‘Sex’ kicks in and the vocal delivery is superb. There’s a sudden addition of flashing red walls in the middle eight and I think I’ve got a bit too emotional.

Healy lights up and ‘Talk!’ comes next, followed by ‘Heart Out’ (there’s no ‘An Encounter’ offered up here). The crowd turn up the volume for the bridge and the sax takes on the solo. Wonderful stuff.

The rendition of ‘Settle Down’ is faultless and we slide into the more introspective tones of ‘Robbers’. The jack comes off and I’m surprised to see Healy in a tee-shirt, not a vest. I expect it to happen, but when everyone cries along to the outro, it gives me the shivers. Thousands of people with eyes screwed shut screaming ‘now everybody’s dead…’ and we’re all having some kind of collective emotional moment.

During the pause, Healy explores a thought about how the Internet has changed what fame means, shortening the concept to brief bursts. He acknowledges that some of the lyrics might get scrutinized as he introduces the next one with ‘I don’t know if I’d write this song in 2023 ladies and gentlemen!’ and here comes ‘Girls’.

Instrumental ’12’ is skipped but ‘She Way Out’ sparkles along with the rectangle providing hypnotic pulses and glitches. The intro to ‘Menswear’ provides a moment of respite, Healy lighting up and returning with a hip flask in hand.

A misty backdrop emerges on screen for ‘Pressure’ and it reminds you that you’ve been focussed on the band for most of this set… and that’s what we should be doing more when we go and see live music. Connecting with people playing music right there in front of you.

Though it sounds like high praise, the set list has the feel of a collection of greatest hits – but the backbone of the set was the debut album, minus instrumentals, played in order. Amazing.

After The Self-Titled Album

We now transition away from the album with ‘It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You’ followed by ‘Happiness’, the latter of which is from the fifth album… so that’s an album every two years give or take. Busy people!

Having broken the microphone stand, Healy uses it to point at the guitar for the solo and puts Adam off his stride, so Healy hands the solo over to John Waugh on the sax. This human moment is a wonderful artefact of live music and just reminds me how flawless everything has been.

They got everything right for this performance. The long-time fans really appreciated the album play through and the stage visuals were superb. With the increasing use of constant video streams providing backdrops these days, the stripped-out staging stood out. It really evoked the original album art and the occasional use of colour made it really land.

This was a masterpiece set that created waves of response in the crowd.

The 1975 Reading 2023 Set List

Here’s the set list for The 1975s Reading 2023 performance:

  1. The 1975
  2. The City
  3. M.O.N.E.Y.
  4. Chocolate
  5. Sex
  6. Talk!
  7. Heart Out
  8. Settle Down
  9. Girls
  10. She Way Out
  11. Menswear
  12. Pressure
  13. It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You
  14. Happiness
  15. I’m In Love With You
  16. Oh Caroline
  17. If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)
  18. I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)
  19. About You

Written by Beck on

Michael Beck is a long-time writer for [the-mag] and Phonotonal.
Michael Beck

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