It was a throwback set full of pure pop nostalgia. Celebrating 20 years, Busted are back. And if a sell-out arena tour – the biggest of 2023 – and a number one album – Greatest Hits 2.0 – are anything to go by, members Charlie Simpson, Matt Willis and James Bourne have been sorely missed. “We were in the freezer for 14 years, so we’re fresh,” joked James, who recently celebrated his 40th birthday. A little look at the Manchester crowd – a sea of 21,000 Millennials, myself included – revealed many of them had too. “We know lots of bands who haven’t lasted this long, and for some reason we have,” mused Matt, 40. Watching their high-octane set, I’d say the reason is clear – Busted give their all, and have fun doing so.
The show opened with a video from Back to the Future professor, Dr Emmet Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd), ramping up an energy that didn’t wane once throughout the set.
Proceedings kicked off with Air Hostess, Meet You There and Loser Kid.
With a high production value, the show had it all, from hydraulics, pyrotechnics, fire and confetti, to retro-style graphics, including old Nokia phones and MSN Messenger, a nod to the band’s inception in 2002.
Floppy-haired music videos in the background laid bare the passage of time. But the songs, revamped for the new album, sounded fresh. New song Good One was received well, sung in the band’s signature rock-pop style.
“We’re going back into the studio when the tour is over,” Charlie, 38, told the crowd, promising more new material to come.
For me, Who’s David and 3am were the highlights, with the latter showing off Charlie’s distinctive voice.
“We’ve never done this before,” Matt Willis told the crowd a little later, before a spotlight revealed a proposal in the audience. “We’re going to crash your wedding,” he continued, launching into the song of the same name.
As the set drew to a close we came full circle with another Dr Emmet Brown video, introducing an encore of Teenage Kicks and Year 3000 – arguably the band’s biggest hit.
Loud, proud and unashamedly fun – it was a lesson in how to put on a pop concert.
Busted are back – and not a moment too soon.