Mcfly - MEN Arena - 23.9.05

Once in a while a band come along that are just so shockingly bad you'd rather listen to Steve Brookstein's Greatest Hits than ever witness again. Famous Last Words are a band so shockingly bad their own mothers would usher them to the cliff's of Dover, smother peanut butter on them and wait for the bird flu epidemic to savage them. They're the sort of band that make Freefallers "30 year olds posturing as Teenagers" act look sophisticated. Still it's the sort of masterstroke that Mcfly can pull off and even if they came and stage and sh*tted a song out the fans would whoop and applaud for the simple fact that Famous Last Words had left the building!!!

The last time Designer Magazine saw Mcfly they looked like frightened rabbits in headlights, the crowd were so loud that the band got drowned out Bay City Rollers style and with just one album behind them they were out of their depth. Now they've grown up, matured, Dougie's even started talking about his poo and later in the tour they'll strip Take That style into their boxers and parade like 3 Mark Owens around the stage.

For all their comparisons Mcfly have never sounded like and never will sound like Busted. As the airing of the Son Of Dork video testifies, James Bourne will always be influenced by American punk-pop, whereas Mcfly's influences lie 50/50 in Merseybeat and the Beach Boys. The sound is so authentic that if you put Danny, Tom, Harry and Dougie in a Age Swop special and dropped them into the Palace Theatre for a 60s Revival Show the pensioners wouldn't be able to tell there difference....and herein lies the problem with Mcfly. It's safe, predictable and never meanders from the straight and narrow. Clearly tonight Dougie's had too much Sunny D and he's the most entertaining thing about the show as he goes on surreal Eddie Izzard-esque rants, but you can't escape the fact that Tom slowly turning into Gary Barlow complete with cringe worthy piano ballads and even Harry going between Geri Halliwells leg is only visiting places thousands of popstars have visited before.

The tracks off the first album can't be faulted - "Obviously", "5 Colours In Her Hair", "That Girl" and "Room On the 3rd Floor" - but "Wonderland" is a little too cabaret with the string section being more Jane McDonald than Phil Spector.

The most surprising highlight of the show was when Danny's sister came out to sing a cover of Alanis Morissette, with a vocal that outstrips anyone who's appeared on X Factor over the past 2 years it can't be long before she launches a solo career in her own right. And Dougie's brief songwriting debut is a punk-pop tour de force which highlights the fact he should be allowed to write more songs in the future.

If you're looking for good value family entertainment you won't get better than Mcfly, but "Wonderland" has seen them mature beyond their ages. If the kids are gonna be interested this time next year they need to carry on the stripping, write some energetic songs and act like any other 20yr old guys. Pops supposed to be the domain of the young after all and we certainly don't need Mcfly going all James Blunt on us!!!

Alex McCann
Photos: Shirlaine Forrest

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UPDATE: A full photogallery of this Mcfly show is available by clicking here