The 1975 Defy Expectations at Finsbury Park

image: Wiki Commons

This infamous show at Finsbury Park proves that The 1975 are indeed still at their very best – despite recent controversies, public uproar and show cancellations.

Originally scheduled for 2020, this show has been a long time coming. Three years, one new album, and a whole string of worldwide tour dates later, the band finally made it to Finsbury Park ready to prove that they were worth the wait.

The day festival’s lineup very much kept it in the family, pulling artists from across the Dirty Hit label including The Japanese House, Bleachers, Cigarettes After Sex and more. Unsurprisingly, however, there was no mystery appearance from fellow labelmate, Rina Sawayama. Her comments at Glastonbury last week where she introduced the track, STFU, saying, “This [song] goes out to a white man that watches Ghetto Gaggers, and mocks Asian people on a podcast… he also owns my masters… I’ve had enough,” had cast somewhat of a public shadow over this long-awaited performance from the band. But judging by the turnout on Sunday, nothing could dissuade die-hard fans of The 1975 from attending the sold-out gig.

The band’s long-awaited entrance to the stage is a theatrical spectacle. Healy captures attention with his choice of attire, sporting a long white scientist jacket that symbolizes the new persona he embodies during performances—an alter-ego that cleverly pokes fun at his own public image. As the set begins with the opening lyrics from the band’s latest album, Being Funny In a Foreign Language, a momentous occasion falls over Finsbury. “This will get bigger if you know what I mean,” feels particularly apt at this moment. 45,000 people gathered together for the band’s largest show to date is a momentous occasion, and it’s clear to see that they recognise that.

Hurling through recent tracks including Looking for Somebody to Love and Oh Caroline, the band were like horses straight out the gate. This first UK show in almost six months is a reminder of just how fierce British crowds can be. Having rivalled the band’s energy level through the first half-an-hour of the set, however, fans are taken aback when the set slows to tap into an acoustic version of Paris.

This is then followed by a touching rendition of All I Need to Hear from Matty’s father, Tim Healy, most renowned for his role as Les Conroy in British sitcom, Benidorm. But in an all-black suit and slumped into his son’s on-stage armchair, he couldn’t look further from his fictional alter-ego. Crooning through the track, it’s a touching moment that has Matty looking teary from the sidelines.

With a somewhat sombre cloud looming over the park, it’s still not time to up the anti yet. Fans are treated to a surprise performance of Be My Mistake, along with The Ballad of Me and My Brain and the ever-emotional, Medicine. The appearance of these fan-favourite tracks is a testament to the scale of this show – these songs rarely feature on your traditional The 1975 setlist. But Finsbury is a special and momentous occasion, so why not wheel out the favourites? Fans certainly did not object.

And much to their delight, Carly Holt-Hann, wife of guitarist, Adam Hann, joins the band onstage to deliver the poignant bridge on About You.

The second half of this set highlights some of their most-loved hits. Ploughing through the likes of Somebody Else, The Sound, and It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You), it’s easy to forget that these anthems have emerged from this one band. With every new album has come a reinvention of their sound, from the slightly more experimental tones of A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships to the more pop-leaning sound of Being Funny in a Foreign Language.

It’s only when fans crash back down to earth with Robbers that a moment of realisation kicks in. For more than a decade, this band have peppered radio stations, smattered tabloid papers and kicked up headlines with every twist and turn. Yet despite all of this, they have displayed longevity that many didn’t believe possible. Now, at their very best, but also most controversial, a twisting conclusion rouses from the stage.

Breaking away from the ’75 norm, the band round off the evening with an unexpected encore of People, an intense exorcism that has traditionally opened shows rather than close them. But this visceral rebellion takes on a new meaning after recent months’ scandals. As the sun began to set over the hazy sky of Finsbury Park and fans watched over the ever-confusing steak break (head to TikTok it if you haven’t seen it before), Matty slinks away from the crowd through a busted TV screen, rounding off another eventful 75 show.

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