On Tuesday 31st May recently reformed English pop rock/pop punk band Busted finally returned to Dublin for the first time in almost 12 years to play the 3Arena, the exact same venue (but heavily renovated and under a new name) that they last played back in November 2004. The tour was aptly titled ‘Pigs Can Fly Tour 2016’ as a joke about how they have always said there’s more chance of pigs flying than Charlie Simpson coming back to Busted, but he has. Back in 2013 McBusted, a super group formed by members of Busted and fellow English pop rock band McFly, was announced, released an album, and went on two very successful arena tours, Charlie was the only member of either band not to join McBusted. Support for the Pigs Can Fly Tour came from American rock band Wheatus and Emma Blackery, a British singer-songwriter and YouTuber. Wheatus had previously brought Busted guitarist James Bourne’s band Son of Dork out on ‘The Get Happy ’07 UK Tour’ so James considers their support slot on this tour his way of paying them back for supporting him back then.
Emma Blackery opened the show, she had previously toured with Charlie Simpson on his solo acoustic tour back in January 2014, including a date in Dublin’s The Sugar Club, that night I recorded a video of her playing ‘The Promise’, you can check it out by clicking here. She opened her set with the title track off her new EP ‘Sucks To Be You’ which was released on the previous Friday, it showcases a more angsty take on pop punk than her older songs which are of a more positive nature. Unlike the previous time I had seen her live she was not playing acoustically or by herself, instead she was playing with a guitarist Arthur Walwin, however every other instrument was played via a backing track. While having Arthur gave the crowd more to watch on stage during her set it made the use of the backing track instead of a full band seem even worst, particularly at a show where the other acts were playing with full bands. An old song, the ever positive ‘Perfect’ followed ‘Sucks To Be You’, the only song in her set not off her new EP. ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ was played next before she finished her incredibly short set with the last song off the EP ‘Let Me Be’. ‘Let Me Be’ is a surprising pop song, showcasing crossover potential with its very catchy chorus. Emma is a strong artist, but honestly a short set and the lack of a full band disappointed me, and while these issues may not have been her fault they did take away a lot from her set: 6.5/10.
About five minutes later Wheatus took to the stage playing their other ‘one-hit wonder’ first, their cover of Erasure’s ‘A Little Respect’, a single that reached No. 5 in the Irish Singles Chart, it was warmly recieved by the crowd. ‘Fourteen’, ‘the second song off their sixth album’ as vocalist Brendan put it, followed it before they dedicated ‘Lemonade’ to Emma Blackery. Brendan told a story about a time they played the south of England and a guy in the crowd tried to fight him as the introduction to ‘Leroy’ and then ‘Only You’ was played before the moment the crowd had been waiting for: ‘Teenage Dirtbag’. ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ peaked at No. 2 in the Irish Singles Charts, a song that everybody in the room knew and you could tell this by just how loud the crowd sang along, with Brendan giving them a chance to sing the ‘I’ve got two tickets to Iron Maiden baby…’ section on their own before he sang it himself. While their set was short, the crowd clearly did not overly care about their ‘other’ songs because they all just acted as a prelude to ‘Teenage Dirtbag’. While I would not call their other songs bad in anyway the band themselves were relatively boring during them as they barely moved and the two backing singers on the stage seemed almost pointless as you could rarely hear their vocals, despite this I think they put on a relatively strong perfomance overall: 7.5/10.
Just prior to Busted‘s set, taking the tour name literally, a giant flying pig ascended above the crowd. As their set drew closer the three large screens on stage began to flash images featuring people in pig masks. As Busteds set commenced the curtains in between the screens dropped to reveal the ‘pigsty’ which featured VIP fans of the band in pig masks across three floors, and the three people in masks on the screen removed said masks to reveal themselves as the members of Busted: James, Matt and Charlie. Then the real James, Matt and Charlie arose from the depths of the stage as they began to play ‘Coming Home’, the first new Busted song in over 10 years. Busted was backed up by a drummer and an extra guitarist. ‘Air Hostess’, the first Busted ‘hit’ of the night, and ‘Falling for You’ off their second album A Present for Everybody followed ‘Coming Home’, before ‘Everything I Knew’ and ‘You Said No’, their first UK number-one single, off their self-titled debut album. ‘Dawson’s Geek’ sounded a little bit dated before their third UK No. 1 single ‘Who’s David’, with lines like ‘You stupid lying bitch, who’s David?’ and ‘You’re just some whore,who sleeps around the town’ the childish humor Busted was known for was still there despite how old they have gotten. Furthering the humor aspect of the show James made remarks about Charlie rejoining the band ‘sometimes I get starstruck by him being on stage with me, like its Charlie, its really Charlie’ and a joke about him not being a hologram.
James took to the piano for the next two songs, before playing ‘Easy’ James talked about the rebirth of Busted as ‘Easy’ was the first new song they wrote together, it was followed by ‘Meet You There’, a song they recently released a new version of recorded in Abbey Road. Another new one ‘One of a Kind’ followed, with James switching to playing a keytar for it. They finished the main body of their set off by playing hit after hit, ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’, ‘Sleeping With the Light On’, ‘Crashed the Wedding’ and ‘What I Go to School For’, the crowd singing along loudly to every single one of them. The band apologized for not being able to play longer, ‘we only have two albums’, before promising to be back next year with ‘new material and a longer set’. The band left the stage then returned for a quick two song encore of ‘3am’, my personal highlight of the night, and ‘Year 3000’, easily their most well known and impactful song.
A short set, clocking in at just over an hour, losses them half a mark but Busted have shown that they were not just a ‘boyband’ that played instruments from the 00’s and that they are here to stay: 9.5/10.