Busted Still Bouncing In The Year 2023

Busted celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album with a mammoth UK tour! We’re here at a packed AO Arena in Manchester for their second sold-out date at this massive venue!

Busted @ AO Arena

James Bourne of Busted @ AO Arena (Joe Jones)
James Bourne of Busted @ AO Arena (Joe Jones)

Opening up tonight are pop-punk band The Tyne. The fresh-faced youngsters met via social media in 2019 and kick off with a highly apt cover of My Chemical Romance’s Teenagers. I was a little irked with them singing a song called Work Is Hard, Life Is Easy seeing as their combined age barely beats my own but it’s an enjoyable, high-energy set that went down well with the old and young alike in the audience and ended with their latest single Bad Mood.

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Next up are Hanson. Yeah, you remember them. The long-haired little kids who shot to fame in 1997 with MMMbop are now in their 30s and 40s. The brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma bring the feel-good atmosphere with tracks like Fired Up and Penny & Me. I was really impressed with the musical craftsmanship and vocal talent which should come as no surprise as the band started out so young. The emotional ballad I Will Come To You was a highlight. But hang on, they’ve left the stage without playing *that* song?!

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Busted burst onto the stage with Air Hostess. Throughout the night, the on-stage screens display flashbacks to the original music videos and imagery from the time such as MSN Messenger and Nokia 3210’s! If the music wasn’t enough, these reminders of what for many of us were simpler times add to the nostalgic vibes as Meet You There and Loser Kid keep the party going.

The recently released Greatest Hits 2.0 – which is actually the band’s first UK Number One album – contains reworkings of their hits with various other artists and a version of MMMBop with Hanson. They invite them onstage to perform it together which pleases those that were confused when they didn’t play it in their own set! Taylor Hanson asks if they can stay to perform a Busted song in return and they do for the ballad Sleeping With The Light On with the audience lighting up the arena with their mobile phone lights. You couldn’t do that with a Nokia 3210!

Good One is the only new song in the set. Charlie Simpson describes it as a song about friends you don’t see for a while but when you see them again, it’s like they never left. He compares this to their relationship with the fans. Many have grown up the same age as the band, and dare I say that the jumping around on stage and in the audience isn’t as frequent as it once was, but both the band and the fans are giving it as much as possible.

Breakthrough hit What I Go To School For has the Arena bouncing and those listening carefully would have noticed some crude altering of the lyrics by Matt Willis!

On good form in between songs too, before Thunderbirds Are Go they tell us how they were promised the world by writing the theme tune to the 2004 film Thunderbirds, “we’ll be the next Celine Dion after Titanic!”. The film was a massive flop but they still love to play this fun, catchy song.

3AM really showed off Charlie’s vocal skills and hints of his time in Fightstar. After Matt lavishes praise on him for his performance and says he wants to kiss him, Charlie catches him off guard by doing so!

They thank the fans for making the tour so successful and can’t believe they’ve sold out this arena twice, saying they will be in the studio recording a new album as soon as it’s finished and they will come back as long as we will have them which is met with massive cheers. An emotional James Bourne says how good it is that fans say they are part of their childhood and how he hopes they can be part of their adulthood too. Aww!

Crashed The Wedding, a cover of The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks and Year 3000 brings the night to a close. As James runs a final lap of the walkway around the stage, he can’t quite make it around without stopping! They finally gather on stage for one last classic Busted jump and everyone is sent home happy.

This was a really fun night with a setlist packed with all their Greatest Hits. Greatest Hits 3.0 in another ten years, lads?!

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Review of Busted at Manchester’s AO Arena on 30th September 2023 by Will Maxwell. Photography by Joe Jones.

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