The 1975 close out Parklife festival

Matty Healy attempted to unite Manchester football fans as the sun set on Parklife 2023

Photo credit: Sophia Carey

The first 1975 fans arrive at the Parklife stage at around midday. The heat doesn’t stop them. The thunderstorm didn’t either – they sit stoic through an hour of torrential rain. When the band finally hit the stage at twenty minutes past nine, Matty Healy sauntering across it in a long white lab coat, they’ve been intermittently sat and stood there for nine hours, all for the sake of securing the best spot.

Recognising this is not Healy’s way. Whilst other artists to grace the Parklife stage that weekend have blown kisses, given teary-eyed smiles, thanked the crowd over and over again, Healy is not that kind of performer. That’s not to say he seems like he isn’t enjoying it all. There are moments of pause where he spreads his arms out or clasps them to the back of his head, grinning as the crowd scream his lyrics back to him. At one point, he asks the Man City fans in the crowd if they could be “civil enough” as to cheer the Man United supporters for their recent FA Cup win. This goes down about how you might expect. “Yeah, you know what, f*ck ‘em,” Healy laughs. “I don’t f*cking care. I’m a Newcastle fan.”

The 1975 - It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)

Part of the fun of watching Healy onstage is the feeling that he might shock us. No part of the 1975’s headline performance at Parklife is particularly surprising, but after a day of so many meticulously choreographed R&B, dance and pop sets, it’s fun to watch Healy trawl the stage in a white lab coat, occasionally sipping from a flask. It’s fun to watch him hold a bottle and cigarette in one hand and a microphone in another and announce, “This song – f*ck it, I can say it about my own sh*t. This song is becoming a modern classic.”

The song he’s referring to is ‘It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You’, a track whose first five notes elicits a scream from the crowd. When the chorus hits, the band are nearly drowned out. ‘About You’, from 2022’s Being Funny In A Foreign Language, is a similar volume – the song had a moment of TikTok virality last year. Healy takes a moment before the next track – ‘Robbers’, from their self-titled debut.

The 1975 - Sincerity Is Scary (Official Video)

“In 2008 we played a show and nobody came,” he says. “Not one person came. We went home with our tails between our legs, and we wrote a couple of songs. This is one of those songs.”

It’s deafening. Healy may have an aloof, vaguely sarcastic presence onstage, but when he says he’s happy to be home it’s clear he means it. And it’s clear that we wouldn’t want him any other way.

Find the 1975 tickets here.

Tickets for Parklife 2024 are now on sale. Find tickets here.