The road to Parklife 2023: The 1975 and their history of huge Manchester shows

In partnership with Parklife

Matty Healy and co. may have met in the sleepy streets of Wilmslow in Cheshire, but there’s no question that Manchester has become The 1975‘s home. During their unstoppable rise over the past decade, the band have amassed a huge worldwide following, headlined Reading and Leeds Festival and won NME‘s prestigious Band of the Decade award at the 2020 NME Awards.

While the group haven’t always been viewed as a classic Manchester band — according to Healy, they used to have a “weird relationship” with the city — the northern metropolis has still played a major part in this story. “It wasn’t subversive to be a band from Manchester that sounded like a band from Manchester,” Healy recently explained while discussing why it took some time for the group to be fully embraced by the city.


Regardless, even in the early days before the release of their 2012 EP ‘Facedown’, The 1975 were regularly packing out venues across the city, a trend that has continued ever since. A historic next step will arrive next month when the band headline Parklife 2023, appearing alongside names like Aitch, The Prodigy, Little Simz, Wu-Tang Clan + Nas and more.

To celebrate the forthcoming show, NME has compiled some of the most important 1975 Manchester moments that have led one of the world’s biggest bands to this point.

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Manchester Academy 3, February 2012

After first meeting as teenagers at Wilmslow High School, the band went through various different makeshift names and iterations, including Talkhouse, The Slowdown, Bigsleep, and Drive Like I Do (the most famous of these early monikers). Under one umbrella or another, they’ve been making music together since 2002, but it wasn’t until February 2012 that they played their first Manchester show as The 1975. A few months before the release of their debut EP ‘Facedown’, this Manchester Academy 3 show saw them support General Fiasco and lay the foundations of a deep connection with the city’s music lovers.

Deaf Institute, February 2013

“Deaf Institute was quite new and cool by the time we got to play it,” Healy told Zane Lowe in a recent interview on Apple Music. “The reason Deaf Institute had such a big part in our story was it was the first Manchester 1975 gig where we went from being a band’s band to people knowing songs.” Early anthems like ‘The City’ and ‘Sex’ were starting to gain serious traction, helped by band manager Jamie Oborne co-founding Dirty Hit, an independent record label set up to provide a platform for The 1975 and others. Deaf Institute played a major part in translating those tracks to a live setting.

Ritz, September 2013

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Matty Healy of The 1975 performs at The Ritz, Manchester on September 21, 2013 in Manchester (Picture: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage)

After scoring their debut Number One album earlier that month, The 1975 headed to central Manchester’s 1,500-capacity O2 Ritz riding the crest of a wave. According to the Manchester Evening News, Healy’s stage antics weren’t quite as zany back then, with the 70-minute set described as “an understated performance, with the lads barely moving while blasting out roaring rock guitar, with 1980s-influential pop and funk riffs”. Clearly, though, it was a pivotal show for them. Before exiting the stage, guitarist Adam Hann addressed the crowd: “Of all the gigs we’ve performed around the world this year, this one means the most.”

Manchester Academy 1, January 2014

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Matty Healy of The 1975 performs a sold out homecoming show at Manchester Academy on January 6, 2014 in Manchester (Picture: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage)

The following year The 1975 were back at Manchester Academy, this time at Venue 1. The magnitude of their rise to be playing one of the city’s most esteemed gig spaces wasn’t lost on Healy, who told a packed crowd “BOY, it’s took us a long time to get here” (via MEN). Later that year, self-titled debut ‘The 1975’ would go platinum in the UK; the undeniable buzz surrounding it encapsulated by the hoards of screaming teenage girls who gathered at Manchester Academy that January night. That aspect of the gig was a sign of things to come…

Manchester Arena, December 2016

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Matty Healy of The 1975 performs at Manchester Arena on December 13, 2016 in Manchester (Picture: Andrew Benge/Redferns)

Described by NME as “an early frontrunner for 2016’s most unpredictable album”, The 1975’s second record ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’ busted many people’s preconceptions about the pop-rock group. It was a huge critical and commercial success, and the four-piece rocked up to Manchester Arena in December 2016 reaping the rewards. A “mammoth homecoming show” that launched a selective UK-wide tour, this was their first ever arena gig, aptly taking place in the city where it all started.

Parklife Festival, June 2017

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Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham and Matthew Healy of The 1975 address the crowd, giving a speech for strength regarding the Manchester attack, before leading ‘one minute of noise’ at Parklife Festival 2017 at Heaton Park on June 10, 2017 in Manchester (Picture: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage)

“We’re from Manchester, right, and where we used to hang out… someone put a bomb in there tonight and then killed a bunch of kids,” an emotional Healy told a Detroit audience on the night of the 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack. The bombings shocked the city, and at Parklife Festival just two weeks later, the tributes to those lost were extremely poignant. Before launching into their set, The 1975 frontman told the crowd that they’d had their moment of silence and it was now time to make some noise. Parklife punters duly obliged.

Manchester Arena, February 2020

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The 1975, live in 2020 (Picture: Jenn Five/NME)

Labelled a “go-anywhere, do-anything” record in a five-star NME review, The 1975’s fourth album ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ was a pivotal moment in the band’s evolution, but its live incarnation hardly even got started. Before the first COVID lockdown hit in March 2020, the Manchester four-piece only managed to play a short string of dates before their tour was cancelled, one of which was at the aforementioned Manchester Arena. Showcasing huge new tracks like ‘People’ alongside old-school classics like ‘Chocolate’, this ended up being their last show for two years, thanks to the pandemic.

Manchester Arena, January 2023

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The 1975 during their 2023 UK arena tour (Picture: Burak Cingi/Redferns for ABA)

Following the release of ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’ last October The 1975 embarked on their ‘At Their Very Best’ tour, a series of dates defined by the pure chaos of Healy’s onstage antics, which included raw steak-eating, heavy chain smoking and some bizarre self-caressing. “I don’t need to tell you how big this gig is for us” were the frontman’s words during this homecoming gig at Manchester Arena, a comment the band backed up with some very special touches (a guest appearance from Charli XCX and a tour debut for ‘Menswear’ being the highlights).

Gorilla, February 2023

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The 1975 live in Manchester (Picture: Jordan Curtis Hughes)

“This album… so it still fucking slaps,” was Matt Healy’s simple introduction to this one-of-a-kind live show, which took place in February against Gorilla’s iconic rectangle backdrop. The headline show saw The 1975 play their eponymous debut album in its entirety 10 years on from its release. On the same day as they were announced as Parklife 2023 headliners, the group treated fans to a full rendition of their breakout record, reeling off hits like ‘The City’, ‘Girls’ and ‘Settle Down’, all in aid of War Child. It was a full circle moment that added to the hype for Parklife and underlined the momentous journey traversed by The 1975 in the past decade.

Parklife 2023 takes place at Heaton Park on June 10-11. Head here for tickets.