On Friday 22nd July, Newmarket Racecourses put on a special treat for their guests: a live performance by the newly-united noughties sensation, Busted. The British Boy band erupted onto the scene in 2002 with their catchy hit single ‘What I go to School for’. In the space of three years, they conquered a huge fan base, released a few more hit singles, such as ‘Year 3000’, ‘Thunderbirds are Go’ and ‘Who’s David’, not to mention the Disney Channel Kids Awards’ Best Band of the Year 2003, and two BRIT Awards just a year later. However, the band only lasted three years, and split up in 2005, to the sound of breaking hearts, when Charlie Simpson left the trio to pursue his solo projects. The faithfuls never gave up hope that they would get back together, and it partially happened in 2013, when McFly invited Busted to join them as special guests for their 10th Anniversary concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, an invitation that was turned down by Charlie Simpson, much to the distress of fans. Nevertheless, the hype created around the newly-formed super-band McBusted wet the appetite of fans, so much so that the subsequent tour in 2014 sold-out completely. Who would have thought that, ten years later, the original trio would return with not only a series of concerts across the UK, but a whole new album, set to drop early August? More to the point, who would have imagined that, after causing the band to break up all those years ago, Charlie Simpson would join forces, once again, with his former band mates? A fact Matt Willis was keen to point out when he introduced the band members, to the uneasy giggles of the crowd.
The open air venue, overlooking the race track, set the scene for a surreal evening of being transported back in time, engulfed in a wave of nostalgia, surrounded by thirty something men and women singing every word of ‘You Said No’. The enthusiasm was palpable, and some viewers even came equipped with T-Shirts that read “Who’s David” and “Busted” on them. On the small and intimate stage, the band seduced the crowd with their relentless energy, preserving the personas we all knew too well: Matt Willis, the charismatic bad boy, arms adorned with tattoos, stoked the eager crowd with his witty banter, asking whether we had bet on the winning horses, and whether we were tipsy. James Bourne, the Skater Boy, with his baggy trousers and signature shaggy hair, jumped around the stage with his guitar, luring us in with his soothing vocals, and occasionally filling the gap between songs with some awkward small talk. Having stated six years ago that “I have no interest what-so-ever in re-joining Busted and I never will", Charlie Simpson slot straight back into the band’s music, enchanting the crowd with his sultry voice and head-banging his way around the stage. With his black waistcoat, shirt and suit trousers, he seemed slightly disconnected with the band’s identity and the Busted brand, which shed doubt on Bourne’s assertions that “Busted is back for good”. Nevertheless, they performed with an energy that aroused the crowd, backed by accurate vocals, pleasing harmonies, and, of course, their catchy pop rock rhythms. Their performance of ‘Air Hostess’ had the audience in rapture, echoing every word of the song and jumping around like teenagers, grinning from ear to ear. Despite the ten year hiatus, the lyrics “In England people know me, one photo’s worth a hundred pounds” still rang true.
However, time will tell whether Busted will be able to create a space for themselves within the pop rock landscape of 2016. Unsubtle references to wet beds, girl-next-doors, teachers, air hostesses and the sexual fantasies of teenage boys seemed suited to a boy band in their early twenties, rocking their signature dyed blond hair. On the lips of thirty somethings, sung to a fan base the majority of which are, by now, probably married with children, the lyrics seem out-of-place. If they are to stay relevant, they will need to update their style of writing, and modernise their signature Busted sound. The two new songs they performed tonight, ‘Coming Home’ and ‘One of a Kind’ seems to suggest that this process is already underway.
The rise of bands like One Direction, Union J and The Vamps have shown that there is still an audience for British boy bands, and, with their dynamic and captivating performance tonight, Busted certainly reasserted their presence within that genre, with the added bonus of having a generation already behind them. Maybe this time, they’ll make it big across the pond too. If Charlie sticks around long enough, that is.
Falling for You
Everything I knew
You Said No
That Thing You Do
One of a Kind
Thunderbirds are Go
Sleeping with the Light On
What I go to School For