Busted At 3Arena – Review & Photos
There’s a lot of things coming back into style as of late, Justin Bieber, high-waisted trousers, denim on denim, Busted. Yes, you read correctly, Busted are among the array of things making a come back this year. It’s been over eleven years since the boys graced us with their presence, when Charlie Simpson infamously decided to depart the band in favour of forming a heavy-metal group called Fightstar. So how was the night going to turn out? Many felt the 3Arena was just too an ambitious venue for a band who haven’t performed together since 2005, and with only two albums to hand, could they even make it a justifiable gig? However, walking into the rather full venue on a Tuesday night highlighted the fact that Busted aren’t living on the remnants of their fame from the early noughties, when frosted hair and combat trousers were the height of fashion. In fact, there was an interesting mix of old, die-hard fans and some fresher faces in the crowd- apparently, the boys didn’t even have to wait until the Year 3000 to be wholly relevant again which is a nice surprise.
The band’s latest tour is titled ‘Pigs Can Fly’ and, boy, do they run with the concept. There’s a giant, inflatable pig swaying and ebbing precariously close to the audience and every couple of minutes the empty stage is lit up with flashing images of people in pig masks silently looking on to the audience. It all seems a little intense and serious for Busted but let’s not forget they’re in their mid-thirties and probably enjoy doing taxes now and talking about the economic climate. The moment before the band arrive is weirdly tense, will they still have that camaraderie amongst them or will it all be about who can shoehorn in their own solo music, will it all just feel like an odd tribute act to a band whose 15 seconds of fame could have already passed them? Han Zimmer’s ‘No Time for Caution’ sets the tone and the audience seems to collectively hold its breath. However, as the trio rise up from under the stage, one can already feel a sense of mischievous in the air, the cheers and screams are piercing and this only swells as the boys burst into their performance of ‘Coming Home’, everything suddenly feels right. The band are skirting around the stage like they’ve never been away from the limelight and there seems to be a relaxed interplay between them.
The stage is probably one of the most interesting ones 3Arena has seen, there’s a semi-circle of fans within the stage and when the curtain drops at the first song a whole wave of ‘pigs’ in their sty are revealed situated at the back of the stage, amongst the speakers; Busted have physically integrated fans into all parts of their performance and it’s a nice thank you gesture for those ever-faithful who hoped the trio would one day reunite. Their awareness of their fan base is even more established through their setlist, they play two or three new songs, but the primary focus is on their older stuff. James Bourne toys with the audience a couple of times, teasingly stating, ‘This song is from our two thousand and… two album’ and there’s a sigh of relief throughout the audience that we will get to hear ‘Thunderbirds are Go’. It’s the nostalgia trip of a lifetime and the band play up to that.
As mentioned, there are some newer tracks interspersed amongst hits such as ‘Go to School For’ and ‘You Said No’, the band briefly mention the forthcoming, unnamed album and the audience seem delighted at such a prospect. The newer tracks such as ‘Easy’ and ‘One of a Kind’ are a little more heavy, moving from fist-pumping guitar riffs to piano solos and heartfelt lyrics. It’s times like this that bassist, Matt Willis, seems most at a loose end – his manic energy is one of the high points of the show and he almost feeds on the audience’s delight- but for these slower tracks he almost doesn’t seem to know what to do with his hands. At one point he hovers over to Bourne, watching him playing piano, before returning to his spot, only to hover back over to Bourne again. It’s not a low point, but the fact that the three huge monitors are always on the band, Willis’ uncertainty is readable on his face. However, it doesn’t taint the night in any shape or form, as soon as they’re back to their classics like ‘Dawson’s Geek’ and ‘Crashed the Wedding’ the atmosphere between the three seems to lift as they smirk and loop around each other, getting up close with the fans and the ‘pigsty’ of followers behind them.
The show works because no one’s under illusions as to why they’re here, the band make direct reference to Charlie’s departure and that fans are here for the old classics, not to be bombarded with new material. There were moments of genuine awesomeness, particularly the encore of ‘Year 3000’, the energy was palpable and the crowd was loving it. Thankfully, and it was certainly the fear in the back of everyone’s minds, it wasn’t some sad, shambolic parody of itself, the boys were ready to put on a true to form show, and let’s face it, they’ve had eleven years to prepare.
Photos by David Doyle
Review by Elaine McDonald