After a successful trek around North America last year, the 1975’s At Their Very Best tour touched down in the United Kingdom earlier this January. More evolved, more focused, more outrageous, this run of shows is quickly proving to be a game-changer for the 1975 as a band. More than that, though, it’s challenging what a rock concert can be, and asking questions about what you usually see onstage. Lofty claims, we know, but when it comes to the 1975, ambition is everything.

From eating raw steak and kissing fans (not at the same time) to a string of guest appearances from their wider musical family, here’s everything that went down during the 1975’s At Their Very Best tour.

Read more: Review: The 1975 really are at their very best

More than a neon dreamworld, this show sees the 1975 doing theater about toxic masculinity

To start, the show is incredibly surreal. Split into two halves, the first plays out like a ‘90s sitcom via a Broadway show with frontman Matty Healy playing a self-destructive, tortured artist who’s obsessed with the idea of masculinity. It’s why he went viral last year eating a fistful of steak and doing push-ups in front of a TV showing images of Andrew Tate. It’s more than just TikTok bait, though. Speaking onstage in London, Matty explained how the right wing has a clearer view of masculinity, while the left is still “floundering” with the idea. “Men are confused,” he adds.


[Photo by Jordan Curtis Hughes]

Sincerity is scary, but it also might be an act

Elsewhere in the very meta first act, Healy talks about method acting and how much performance is required when you’re doing a show around your own life. Then he laughs, admits he’s made eye contact with the camera at least three times, and asks if he can try it again. A director yells cut, then an army of labcoat-wearing makeup artists appear onstage to give the 1975 (here expanded to an eight-piece) a quick spruce before Healy tries it again. It’s polish versus passion and asks questions about every interaction that happens between artists and their audience.

“Don’t let what you consume, consume you,” he warns elsewhere during their show-within-a-show. A condescending “wooo” may dampen the sincerity somewhat, but it isn’t long before he disappears into a television set to end the first act. It’s the whole message of their third album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, summed up in one moment of flamboyant stagecraft.


[Photo by Jordan Curtis Hughes]

They aren’t afraid of their influence anymore

From the moment the 1975 released early singles “The City” and “Sex” in 2012, the band have had their imitators and their critics. This division forced the group to rapidly evolve, but that fearlessness to experiment and take chances continued to inspire other bands. Understandably, the 1975 pushed back against this. “Other bands don’t really like us, and we don’t really like them. We don’t really get each other,” Healy said in an interview with Dork Magazine, still convinced the 1975 are the same black sheep they were when they were playing Fall Out Boy covers in Manchester pubs.

But they’re less closed off than they once were. There’s obviously their label, Dirty Hit, which has become a nurturing environment to launch exciting new acts like beabadoobee, Rina Sawayama and tour support Bonnie Kemplay, but At Their Very Best sees the 1975 champion their new musical community. Phoebe Bridgers appeared onstage in Los Angeles during the interval to perform “Milk,” Jack Antonoff did the same in San Francisco, as did Charli XCX in Manchester. Musically, they couldn’t be more different, but there’s a shared, fearless ethos there.

And then there’s Taylor Swift, who turns up in London, takes a sip of Healy’s leftover drink, and  performs “Anti-Hero” live for the first time, as well as a cover of the 1975’s “The City.” It’s one thing to have the biggest artist in the world support you — it’s another to do away with fake platitudes and gushing remarks. It’s just bangers sandwiched between bangers and mates hanging out with mates.


[Photo by Jordan Curtis Hughes]

The 1975 love a reference

At Their Very Best might be a very different the 1975 show, but it’s still jam-packed with little nods to what’s come before. Their big neon box has gone, but the doorway of their onstage house lights up to replace it. Televisions flash colors of different eras, while the unofficial community anthem “Robbers” typically sees Healy ditch the stage and embrace the front row. Well, apart from when pop royalty is in the building. “I’m not kissing anyone in front of Taylor Swift. In front of the queen? Have some respect,” he says onstage in London. It all serves as a reminder to the die-hard fans that no matter how big, how strange the 1975 get, they’ll always be their band.

And they’re still making meme-ories together, like changing the lyrics of “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” to rant about menthol cigarettes, plastic cups or cough sweets through heavy Auto-Tune. Sure, it’s silly but it’s what the people want.


[Photo by Jordan Curtis Hughes]

The band are still unafraid to say exactly what’s on their mind

There are plenty of touching moments during the bright lights and giddy choruses. “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” is a bone-chilling burst of catharsis that’s as raw as the sirloin Matty often gnaws on, but there’s space for politics as well. The band-titled opening track to the 1975’s most recent album Being Funny In A Foreign Language has Healy apologizing for his younger self. “I was learning the ropes/I had a tendency of thinking about it after I spoke,” he sings over jaunty piano, while during the self-referential first act of the show, he explains how he was more concerned about being right than being active.

Throughout At Their Very Best, there are quips about democracy not working in the wider world, and on the first night of the U.K. tour, Healy explained how “being anti-Tory (the U.K. version of the Republicans, basically) isn’t a hot take.” In London, he offers an in-depth explanation of the ongoing strikes that are happening across England and how the British government is deliberately trying to demonize unions. “We’re hypnotized by however many years of Tory rule that we’ve forgotten that industrial action is fucking normal. I may be a champagne socialist, but that is true.” It’s not the most inspiring political speech anyone has ever made, but it said and did more than a simple chant of “take the power back.”

“Shouldn’t have to play this song in 2022,” he adds, introducing the angsty, charged “Love It If We Made It” that’s perhaps more relevant today than it was back in 2018.


[Photo by Jordan Curtis Hughes]

The 1975 are somehow still getting better

“Ten years ago, we were just whippersnappiering around,” Matty announces onstage in London. “I hadn’t written any lyrics, but we had released an album. It’s been 10 years, and we’re only just getting good.” Elsewhere, he says that the thing about the 1975 is that “we just keep getting better, baby.”

And yes, it’s been said countless times before about this tour (which is very purposefully called At Their Very Best), but the 1975 are absolutely brilliant live. The second half takes their neon-dreamworld into more urgent, vibrant places, while the first set not only shows off the back-to-basics warmth of Being Funny In A Foreign Language but it sees the 1975 expand their creative horizons. It’s a triumph to witness something so utterly bizarre work in a venue as big as the O2. The 1975 have always been trendsetters. Let’s see which other artists are brave enough to follow them down this new path.


[Photo by Jordan Curtis Hughes]