McBusted at Brighton Centre review

The union of Busted and McFly hopped on the bandwagon of the Big Reunion craze that seems to have been adopted by everyone recently and put all the Blue’s, 5ive’s and S Club 7’s well and truly in their places. The announcement of their series of arena tour dates last year, culminating in a sold out crowd of 60,000 in Hyde Park got every girl who was 15 in 2003 all hot under the collar and resulted in all dates selling out in a matter of seconds. At the time it was expected by most that they would do the tour, cash in, and then go away again to be forgotten once more (more true of Busted than McFly who have remained credibly making music for over 10 years now). That couldn’t be further away from what happened. They went into the studio together, recorded the album that you can imagine James from Busted has been dying to write for all these years, and firmly cemented themselves as the ultimate boy-band super group of all time. With another huge string of tour dates across the world, supporting none other than One Direction for a good chunk of it, they show no signs of slowing down.

Which brings us to the event itself… It’s one of the rare occasions that I’m happy that I arrived at a concert early. To have the time to take in the stage, and the crowd, whilst the lights are still up is something to be appreciated. The stage has a runway, that could almost have been lifted from a skate park, running a full circle around a lucky group of girls waiting hotly in anticipation in the middle of it for the show to start. The warm up comes from the 1980’s movie trailers that are being played on the big screens either side of the giant arcade machine looking stage; we’re treated to Bill and Ted, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Weird Science, Wayne’s World, Hook and many more. It sets the tone for what is to follow perfectly, an all out fun blast from the past.

Then the lights drop and the arcade machine comes to life in a Streets of Rage-esque style as the boy’s characters are chosen one by one. They each appear as if by magic in a puff of smoke and a Sonic the Hedgehog sound-effect on their respective spots on the stage. They break straight into one of the newly written songs, Air Guitar, and everyone in the crowd instantly knows that they about to witness something special.

The spectacle of the production in place is a late-20/early-30-year-old boy’s dream. You can tell that they had A LOT of fun putting it together. As the second new song of the night, I Hate Your Guts, plays the main backdrop screen is playing along perfectly in time on Guitar Hero. Incidentally, the album version of the song features Mark Hoppus from Blink 182 on vocals. Knowing how much of a fan they are of Blink, having personally bumped into James at one of their concerts in Wembley Arena many moons ago, it must feel quite the accomplishment for the boys to now be able to play with one of their heroes respectively.

Up until this point they’ve all been fairly stationary. As they play the first McFly song of the night, Song for the Radio, the suddenly become a lot more animated. Dougie, James and Matt make the first use of that runway, leaping and running around like every teenage boy who ever wanted to be a rock star’s dreams have finally come true. Followed swiftly by Thunderbirds Are Go the energy levels are truly soaring now.

Get Over It has to be one of the simplest yet most effectively catchy written bunch of lyrics I’ve heard in a long time. The way that the old songs of each original band blend so easily in with new gems like this one suggest that this is what it had been leading up to all along and this super group was always meant to be.

You Said No flows seamlessly into 3AM for an epic bit of Busted nostalgia before the screens are filled by the image of Zoltar from the Big fairground machine and the stage is filled with flames as the pyro budget is put to good use for What Happened To Your Band. This song tells the story perfectly of Matt and James and what they’ve been going through for the past 10 years. It’s all now firmly in the past boys.

They all vacate the stage to be welcomed back to the instantly recognisable chiming of the wedding bells as the intro to Crashed The Wedding. Naturally, they’re all now dressed the part; Dougie’s the blushing bride, Matt’s the groom, Harry’s the reverend and Tom, James and Danny make beautiful bridesmaids. They all look perfectly at home, running around the stage and displaying faces that are a testament to how much they clearly love every minute of this.

The Busted songs keep coming with Air Hostess and What I Go To School For, before a pause for some thoroughly entertaining crowd banter. Highlights include a sign that says ‘McBust on my face’ and the token girl that got her boobs out. What she perhaps didn’t expect to happen was Danny then breaking into an improvised song about how she had just lost her dignity. They then turn all the lights off and ask the audience to light the room with their mobile phones as they go through a flawless version of Obviously. It’s not an original idea, but it’s effective nethertheless.

An acoustic duo performance from James and Danny of Beautiful Girls Are The Loneliest gets a bit emotional before the other four reappear for Riding On My Bike. James is abusing the auto-tune to comic effect while he rides around the ramp on a bicycle, clearly what the stage design had been building up to all night.

We’re then given a treat as it’s revealed the arcade machine stage really works. They’re actually playing Street Fighter 2 Turbo (undoubtedly one of the best games on the SNES) by jumping on man size buttons and leaning against a joystick. Not a site that many people will be lucky enough to witness in their lives.

The kiss-cam comes out for It’s All About You, causing some hilarious unwanted kisses in the crowd, before they move into Star Girl with a rainbow road, from Mario Cart, themed backdrop before they depart the stage for ‘the end of the show.’

The break before the encore keeps to the theme of the evening with a pre-recorded, Mighty Ducks themed, segment on the big screens with Danny playing the role of Emilio Estevez’s Coach Bombay perfectly. “McBusted jump together!” They most certainly do.

We’re then drowned in confetti for 5 Colours In Her Hair and blinded by neon lights for Shine A Light before the closer, Year 3000, rounds the evening off perfectly. They all jump off the back off the stage, one by one, to Pac Man noises indicating the end of the game, and the evening.

This is honestly one of the most mesmerising performances that I have ever seen; they are undoubtedly showmen and entertainers through and through. I strongly doubt that this is Game Over for McBusted.

McBusted’s eponymous debut album is out now.

Words and image by Tom Ricards

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