Gig Review by Kirsty Hillyer with Photography by Lee Allen

Busted

As someone who is becoming increasingly jaded about generic pop punk you may wonder what has brought me to the Genting Arena to see Busted. The infectious fun of the McBusted documentary and the return of Charlie has me intrigued to see them live.

Busted

The crowd isn’t the mix of late twenties fan girls on the nostalgia trip I was expecting. From families, teen boys who want to be the next Busted and girls of all ages I can’t help but wonder about the purpose of the pop punk playlist filling the time between bands. Playing NFG, Dashboard, TBS, AFI and Head Automatica before a random Fleetwood Mac track I’m not sure Busted’s belief of a credible pop punk act and gateway band for their fans to listen to their favourite musicians is a reality.

Busted

Opening proceedings is Emma Blackery; YouTube vlogger star and download chart hit with a few EPs under her belt.

Emma Blackery

There appears to be one heart felt fan singing their lungs out and fist pumping. Emma prances around the stage to a backing track accompanied solely by a lone guitarist trying to make the stage feel smaller than it is.

Emma Blackery

As she sings, “Sucks To Be You” from her new upcoming EP you can’t help but see the Avril Lavigne comparisons, but sadly she lacks the attitude to pull off the lyrics she’s espousing.

Emma Blackery

Whilst Emma Blackery is full of eager spirit it’s tinged with an air of a desperate need to be liked and accepted, which is completely understandable when faced with a full arena to win over. Sadly the nice girl plays punk is a bit too 90’s Billie and as the crowd seemed to erupt into laughter as she left the stage my ears still ring with the comment from the girl sitting next to me “She sucks ass, best part was her sparkly jacket!”

Emma Blackery

Wheatus are the main support, opening with their cover hit ‘Little Respect’ and quite the sing-a-long rolls out across the stadium as a sea of phones go up to film them. Sadly, from the off, one of the female backing singers is out of tune and looks both bored and petrified. Every time the big screen camera cuts to them it goes beyond awkward to watch.

Wheatus

Lead singer Brendan B. Brown is polite and engaging as he introduces each song. As he segues into ‘Fourteen’ off their 6th album I ask myself, ‘who knew they had so many?’

Wheatus

Wheatus are the victims of their own success. They’re the band that fell between the cracks of being too pop but not pretty enough for continued pop success and not punk enough to stay the course with the alt kids.

Wheatus

As they perform tracks ‘Lemonade’, ‘Leroy’ and ‘Only You’ about being beaten up for playing a 1D cover, I realise that this is a band that should be a guilty pleasure in an early Bryan Adams way. Underrated and over exposed but they still keep kicking out quality, classic pop songs.

Wheatus

As Brendan turns to their keyboardist Mark Palmer to ask what time it is, Mark promptly reveals a ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ t-shirt for the final song in their set. Birmingham sang along with gusto, including harmonies to the perfect dose of Wheatus.

Wheatus

As eagerness mounts for Busted the soundtrack changes to a video fueled, corporate advertising run of music videos with a primary focus on the 1975. This is continually interrupted with Busted transmissions of people wearing pig masks in launderettes set against gritty, urban backdrops to tease the crowd into excitement.

Busted

I awaited Busted’s arrival with the same trepidation as when I saw Fightstar at their Warwick Uni show – the first show after Charlie announced he was leaving Busted. The atmosphere and setting is certainly a world and age apart as a pig mask-wearing handler walks a giant, floating, inflatable pig around the arena.

Busted

As the lights go out and a longer intro of pig masked miscreants is shown, the screams ring out till the pig starts glowing, the curtain drops to reveals a pig sty wall of pig masked fans before Busted pop up out of the floor and the arena explodes in excitement.

Busted

Opening with new track ‘Coming Home’ it is the mark of a new era of Busted that Charlie always longed for; a synth pop track written to define the reuniting and return of this trio.

Busted

If you were hoping this review would be about more than Charlie I can only apologise. Every town in the 00s had a Charlie, and I can’t help but be reminded of this fact and of my long gone friend Geoff, who would drunkenly shout ‘CHARRRLIE’ at that look-a-like every time he saw him out. That same level of awe and attention is certainly afforded the real Charlie, who gets the biggest cheer form the crowd when it’s his turn for a solo verse.

Busted

From the opener and the staging they are presenting the new, serious, Busted to the world, but as they play ‘Air Hostess’ you can’t help but observe the dead behind the eyes look of Charlie as James plays the juvenile, cheesy fool; an image he always wanted to be dissociated with and saw him leave for Fightstar.

Busted

Matt brings the jokes and charisma to the evenings banter as he reflects upon the 12 years since they played Birmingham together. As they play ‘Falling for You’ I can’t help but notice a group of men get all nostalgic, linking arms and swaying together. This is why fans will always come out in their droves, that moment of lost youth, to be transported back to a simpler time.

Busted

Delivering a set that included their Thunderbird theme, ‘You Said No’, Crash the Wedding’ and of course ending on ‘Year 3000’ you can’t deny that they delivered a tight set, Charlie sounded the best he’s ever been vocally and the production was fucking cool.

Busted

I’m won’t lie, they wouldn’t be out of place at Slam Dunk Festival that’ll be rolling into this venue in a week and I’d certainly go back for more. I’ll take Busted over Neck Deep any day of the week.

Busted

See the complete photoset by Lee here.

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