Busted / V - MEN Arena - 9.12.04

Nepotism can get you anywhere which is why we're greeted with Undesided, a band fronted by none of other than Matt Busted's brother. Looking like he's stepped off the building site and on to the stage he delivers a set which is predictable and goes nowhere.

Our favourite inter band nipple tweakers V pull out all the stops, being lowered down to the masses on a crane in a surreal Challenge Anneka style mission where they have just 6 songs to prove why they're superior to Busted. "Can You Feel It?", a cover of the Jackson 5 classic and the unofficial soundtrack to David Blunkett's illicit love affair, is delivered as Aaron, Kevin, Leon, Mark and Anthony bound around the stage as if Boyzone and Westlife never happened. "Hip To Hip" manages to slip the word "wack" back into the dictionary, while "You Stood Up", the token ballad of the night, shows that V have more to them than camp pop. Offering a Xmas Melody featuring Silent Night and Last Christmas before closing on the George Michael pilfering "Blood Sweat And Tears" V prove why they are one of the finest pop bands this country has. Remember V are for life, not just for Xmas and don't leave the future of pop in the hands of the Noise Next Door and Rooster.

Busted are in the dubious position where they can still sell out two nights at the arena, while at the same time fielding off constant rumours of Charlie leaving to pursue Fightstar full time and of course there's the good ship McFly that seem to dwarf them in each and every magazine poll this year.

From the outset James, Charlie and Matt show no signs that they're a band ready to split. Flanked by ex Vegastones and Tat members Tim Van Der Kill and Damo on guitar and drums respectively alongside an additional keyboard player they launch headlong into "Crashed The Wedding" and prove that while the Darkness may get by on siberian tigers and stylists, for all their pop sensibilities and playing the game Busted simply wow a crowd with a selection of great songs.

The boys are still the same as they were at the Apollo a couple of years back. Matt's morphed into Green Day's Billie Joe, but had a dirrtty cackle somewhere between Lou Carpenter and Sid James. Charlie's still the silent bit of posh totty who burnt his N'Sync records in favour of an obscure Funeral For a Friend 7" and James, well he still looks like the outsider who spend his lunchtimes indoors eating Lemon curd sandwiches and dreaming up how he could appear on TOTPs.

With only 2 albums behind them Busted have a set which for most bands would be a greatest hits tour. "Air Hostess", "Year 3000", "Who's David", "What I Go To School For?" are interspersed with acoustic versions of "Psycho Girlfriend" and "Sleeping With The Lights On". In a set of multiple highs it's only when Matt takes on The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" that the one finger salute goes up in memory of the late Joe Strummer.

Ending on "Thunderbirds Are Go" and "3am" Busted prove their worth 10 times over and when we consider the pop landscape pre-Busted was littered with the likes of Blue, Westlife and assorted forgotten boy bands such as 3SL and Human Nature then we can forgive them for bringing along the likes of Noise Next Door. Now if only Charlie could stave off his emo leanings with Fightstar we could just get another 12 months of buzzsaw pop punk. Bring it on!!!

Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Shirlaine Forrest  www.shirlainephotos.co.uk

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