Matt Healy is like a sort of sexy little Gollum, writhing about on the main stage – officially called the Obelisk Arena – at Latitude Festival, wearing black skinnies and an oversized blazer that could accommodate approximately three of him. Not conventional frontman material, perhaps, and yet tonight the musician helps to establish The 1975 as serious headline performers of the future.
It’s their first main stage headline festival show and Healy is keen to made a suitably big deal of the event. He uses the performance to plug the band’s next tour – penciled in for October 2018, apparently – and tells the audience in Suffolk: “We’re not accustomed to headlining festivals yet. We don’t know how to do it, so thanks for your help.”
Well, you’d never guess that from tonight’s set, which ticks all boxes required of massive, career-making moments. It boasts huge tunes, from the pop-rock strut of the INXS-influenced ‘Love Me’ to gospel choir-backed ‘If I Believe You’; a lavish set built around their neon-drenched 3D screens; and self-aggrandising proclamations about the band’s career. Healy explains that current album ‘I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’ “became a bit of en era – and tonight is an end of that era.” He promises that “the new era will be called ‘Music For Cars'”, the title of the band’s upcoming album.
The singer is in a talkative mood throughout, using the opportunity to call out Islamophobia, racism, homophobia and transphobia. He suggests the world should be more like a music festival (luckily the real world has more deodorant) and says: “If the world was like this [Latitude], everything would be fine. There might be a few too many drugs, but that never hurt anybody. We’re gonna play a song that is about universal love and compassion. I’m sorry if I ever said anything about religion or about anything that ever offended anybody – I don’t wanna offend anybody, ever. My intention is to spread love and unity.
“In particular, I wanna shout out all of the communities that are misrepresented and maligned. So, the Muslim community, the black community, the LGBTQ community. I wanna say that we stand with you and we fucking love you. We love every single person in this field. So who’s ready to get compassionate? Get them flags up!” The band then plays ‘Loving Someone’, the stage bathed in rainbow-coloured light.
The performance hinges on the frontman’s weird charisma. He leads the prerequisite ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn’ chant (now enshrined in law as an essential component of any festival slot) draws sexily on a cigarette and at one point says: “We’re headlining Latitude. This is crazy! We couldn’t be more humbled. This immediately goes into one of the best nights we’ve ever had.”
All round, this is a louche, charming, easy-to-like set. It’s sometimes silly (the saucy sax solos are impossible to resist), always earnest and the clearly work of a band with plenty of gas in the tank. When the entire field bounces to joyous closer ‘The Sound’, it’s hard to picture a more glorious climax to a headline show.
The 1975 played:
A Change of Heart
Please Be Naked
The Ballad of Me and My Brain
If I Believe You