Parklife may not be as much of a household name as Glastonbury or Reading & Leeds, but it’s seen many young artists and bands successfully cut their teeth in its seven years of existence.
Rather than restricting itself to one genre of music, Parklife offers a whole host of different acts each year and so is attended by all kinds of music fans et al. This year’s edition was headlined on its first day by none other than The 1975, a band at their peak who used the set as an opportunity to give back to the very city that formed them.
Ahead of The 1975’s performance, a touching tribute was made to the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing. Parklife’s organisers and promoters said a few words, then welcomed to the stage some of the emergency services staff who had been on call during the attack on May 22. The newly elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham followed, announcing The 1975 himself. Lead singer Matty Healy never turns down an opportunity to “use his platform”, so while the other three members of the band stood back he praised the city for its resilience and seemed rather reminiscent of his teenage years growing up in Manchester.
Even if their music isn’t your scene, you’d find it hard to fault The 1975’s slick, professional, intelligent shows on any given day. Their performance at Parklife however, was something utterly remarkable. It’s fairly easy to predict the way their sets will pan out as they rarely make changes to the songs that they play, but in amongst the obvious ‘Love Me’ and ‘Heart Out’ etc., the four-piece made the perfect salute to the fact that they were back on home turf. ‘You’, a track from the first album that hasn’t seen the light of day in quite some time, and ‘The City’, which— you guessed it— a track with reference to the band’s upbringing, came as surprises to the enthusiastic crowd.
It would be naïve to think everyone in the audience was a dedicated The 1975 fan, but the diehards and those who were there just to check the band out were united in their initial shock following the performance of fan favourite ‘Robbers’. Deep in the archives of SoundCloud lies a remix of the track by Shadow Child (AKA radio DJ Simon Neale), which offers a unique, EDM spin on the usually quite heart-breaking cut. The 1975 are in the midst of their final tour for their second album I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, with Parklife having been the kickoff. They played the remix in a nod to their roots which, while it doesn’t necessarily show in their output, were heavily influenced by 90’s dance music. The stark change in the set from dejected indie rock to the sight of Healy thinking he was the next David Guetta came as quite the eye-opener to those watching.
Closing with the hugely successful single ‘The Sound’, The 1975 managed to stir up quite the reaction from everybody watching on regardless of their status in the fanbase. On Healy’s instructions to jump during the guitar solo, it seemed if the ground below would split from the sheer force of thousands satisfying his very words. It’s clear to see that this is a band fully realised— they’re a force to be reckoned with, possessing monumental power. Lucky for their adoring fanbase, they’re four guys willing to give back twice as much as what they take.