Saturday, 14 May 2016

Gig Review: Busted at The SSE Arena, Wembley

* Originally published here by Kettle Mag.

Image: Lorna Holland
'Pigs will fly before Busted reform'.

That's what everyone (including the band themselves) was saying in the decade since pop trio Busted split up in 2005. Following reports of a 'rift' between Charlie Simpson and the other boys, Matt Willis and James Bourne, Charlie eventually left to pursue his musical ambitions fronting alt-rock band Fightstar.

In the years that followed, all three trod different paths with their music. Following the success of pop supergroup McBusted, of which James and Matt were members, a surprise announcement in November of last year put a stop to the endlessly-circling rumours. Seemingly out of the blue, the band announced a UK-wide arena tour, causing Busted fans across the country to go into overdrive on social media.

Busted are back

Six months down the line, and 11th May 2016 marked the first date of the aptly-named 'Pigs Can Fly' tour. Kicking off the tour at Wembley's SSE Arena, this was the band's first live show in 12 years. All eyes were on Wembley, as fans and critics alike waited with bated breath to see if Busted still had it after spending so long apart.


Support came in the form of Emma Blackery, who I have to admit I'd never heard of before, and I can't comment on her performance now either because I was stuck in a queue for merch when she came on; and Wheatus. Despite the fact that I always thought of Wheatus as a bit of a one-hit wonder (and to be fair they have every right to still be dining out on a single as popular as 'Teenage Dirtbag') they seemed to have attracted quite a loyal fanbase among the Wembley crowd.

Introducing the pigsty

After possibly the shortest interval I think I've ever experienced between a support band and the main act, we were treated to a slightly bizarre introductory pre-filmed segment featuring various people wearing white pig masks (yes, that was as creepy as it sounds) before the curtains came down to reveal 'the pigsty'. The pigsty is the latest in a long line of premium ticket upgrades offered by various bands and artists, promising greater interactivity and once-in-a-lifetime experiences in exchange for eye-watering amounts of cash. Following in the footsteps of the likes of the OMFG zone, the pigsty allows a select group of fans willing to cough up the opportunity to watch the show from on stage, behind the band. And I have to say, if I had paid for a pigsty upgrade, I would have surely felt slightly ripped off - it seemed to be much more of a ticket gimmick rather than a truly special experience.

Just as the fans were going into meltdown (the arrival of Mcfly's Harry Judd and Dougie Poynter a couple blocks along from me didn't help matters) the boys shot up onto the stage via trapdoors and launched straight into their first song, brand new single 'Coming Home'. We were off at last.
I was too young to see Busted live the first time around, but it felt like they'd never been apart. The entire set was full of energy, with the boys bouncing off each other and the crowd to produce an electric atmosphere. It was clear to see how much they were enjoying it and how much it meant to them to be back - Matt for one was jumping around the stage all night! With the exception of a few minor hiccups involving an inaudible guitar and Matt forgetting the lyrics to 'Crashed the Wedding' (luckily then being reminded by a fan in the OMFG zone) the whole evening ran like a dream.

Partway through the show the boys migrated to the smaller B-stage in the middle of the arena. Now that the giant inflatable flying pig had been moved to the empty seating block in the corner in S15, strings of lights hung down from the rafters to just above the band's heads to create the effect of a giant rope-light chandelier. It was simple, yet surprisingly impressive visually - a concept that was applied for most of the show.

Promising new music

The boys played all the fan favourites and their biggest hits from back in the day, interspersed with a sprinkling of brand new tracks from the upcoming album played to an audience for the first time. Although these new songs didn't get the crowd going quite as much as the old hits, I still thought they were excellent. It seems like the album will be a continuation of the more mature sound present on 'Coming Home', and these teaser tracks have definitely made me excited for the new release.

Without a doubt, the evening was an undeniable success, but I think Matt managed to sum it up best:
If you've got tickets to any of the remaining tour dates, you're definitely in for a treat! As it turns out, pigs really can fly.

Are you a fan of Busted? Will you be seeing them live? Let me know in the comments below!

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