Reading 2016 has been full of artists stepping up and proving their worth, including Chvrches, Blossoms, Spring King and Boy Better Know. But none more so than The 1975, who may just be the best band in the country right now.
Two years ago, Matt Healy and his bandmates closed the final day of the NME / Radio 1 Stage admirably. With ridiculously-titled second album ‘I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful, Yet So Unaware Of It’ under their belts, their return was even more glorious – a masterclass in pop perfection and the best possible way to end the festival.
From the very start (the irresistible ‘Love Me’) there are fans crying, and the screams that greet the band are deafening. Healy doesn’t have to do anything to elicit such a response. When he stands at the front of the stage smoking a cigarette, he gets almost as big a reaction as some of the songs on the setlist. “This is such an incredible experience,” he says after ‘Change Of Heart’, “thank you so much”.
The band’s set is only an hour, which feels short considering ‘I Like It…’ alone clocks in at 75 minutes. It’s perfect though – there’s no filler whatsoever, and barely a pause between songs. The relentlessly electric atmosphere never wanes and is elevated every time Healy addresses the rapt crowd. “I love it here, I love coming to Reading. It’s amazing to see so many of you,” he says after ‘Loving Someone’. “I’m so buzzing, I love this festival” he adds ahead of ‘Chocolate’, and its impossible not to be swept along by the love filling the tent.
By the time ‘The Sound’ comes round, Reading is a mass of grinning, weeping people. Those who weren’t fussed by the band beforehand are converts, united in their newfound adoration in the most euphoric band of the weekend. As the anthemic track reaches its breakdown, Healy instructs the crowd to jump on the count of four. Practically everyone crammed under the canvas obeys his command and it’s beautiful sight.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but I can promise you two things,” Healy says ahead of grand finale ‘Sex’. “One: we’re gonna go away and make another record. Two: we’re gonna come back and we’re gonna fucking headline Reading, I fucking promise you.”
When they do, it will go down as one of the greatest headline performances in recent memory.