Review: Busted Live At The Echo Arena

BUSTED gave a monumental show the other night at the Echo Arena, showing us, amid giant inflatable pigs and backed by a ‘pig sty’ comprised of audience members, that anything is possible – especially their spectacular reunion. As if the tour’s name “Busted: Pigs can Fly” and the fact that they announced it with the help of a real live pig called Stanley wasn’t enough; Matt, Charlie and James wanted to do something extra special to really hammer home the unexpectedness of their reunion. This is where the ‘Piglets’ came in, and more surprisingly so, where I became one of them. Pre gig, the band professed to various media that they hoped for a ‘world’s first’ collaboration between the audience and the dynamic trio, citing that their fans would have a huge role to play in ensuring the Pigs Can Fly tour was an unforgettable experience. The Pig Sty was a mission impossible style adventure for the chosen swine. Every person lucky enough to be given a VIP wristband went to register with the stewards as Wheatus finished their last few songs. We were then given a backpack embellished with a pig’s face before ushered back stage. ‘Before the curtain drops,’ the stewardess told us sternly, ‘make sure you’re all wearing your pig’s masks with your hoodies up.’ So, here I was – part of the secret pig brigade in the Echo Arena – looking slightly like a masked murderer but with an incredible viewpoint of Busted’s self- proclaimed ‘World’s first immersive tour.’ The low twangs of guitar gave way to a roaring from the crowd and, with a burst of white light, the curtain finally dropped. A roar rippled through the arena. After 12 and a half years, Busted were back. I felt like I had slipped back a decade. I was 15 again. Screaming I was glad they ‘Crashed the Wedding’ and horrified ‘You Said No’ at the disco. Except I wasn’t in my bedroom but in the surreal setting of backstage at the Echo Arena, wearing a mildly terrifying Pig’s Mask, amid rows and rows of other ‘Piglets.’ Did I feel a little old at 25? Definitely. But, seeing one of my favourite childhood bands reform after 12 years from a highly unusual vantage point more than made up for it. Amusingly, you could spot the golden oldies like myself – the ones who threw their arms up for, and yelled with mutual indignation “Who the hell is David?!” and the younger crowd looking bemused at lesser known tracks such as 2003’s “3am” but who threw themselves around for the killer opener ‘Coming Home.’ It certainly did feel like homecoming. Like old friends reminiscing over forgotten times, the band played mostly classic, big numbers such as ‘Air Hostess’ and ‘Thunderbirds are go’ peppered with a few, lesser known titles such as ‘Falling for you’ and ‘Easy.’ Busted 1As the band had cut ties in the highlight of their career more than a decade ago, the tour was of course, brilliantly nostalgic. Being among a sea of squealing pigs seemed like too good an opportunity to find out whether the trio had truly captured the younger audience, past the reform hype.   Catherine, aged 17, said: “I love Busted. I was actually too young to know anything about them before they split up but I’ve really gotten into them over the last few years and I can’t see why they ever did split up! They sound much better live than they do on record as well which is really saying something! I can’t wait to see them live again.” The Echo Arena proved once again to be the perfect setting for showmanship, glorifying the performance with brilliant theatrical touches. Midway through the show, the lights darkened and band left the stage to the genuine bemusement of the audience who could only see the shadows and dim lights of a possible second stage being set up in the middle of arena. Whoops were heard from the audience as the trio resurfaced in the smaller, more intimate setting of a stage in the centre of the arena, under the golden glow of a large chandelier above. Here, they played some of their older, more emotional hits such as ‘Who’s David’ and ‘Meet you there.’ The session musicians proved themselves to be incredible performers and well worthy of performing alongside the pop punk kings ramping up the tension in between sets. The drummer, in particular, was exceptional rattling his drums in a thrilling solo, gearing up the excitement before the band burst through the floor of the stage. “I’ve actually hit my head in the trap door corridor,’ confessed Matt, before the band launched into classics such as ‘Sleeping with the light on’ and ‘What I go to school for.” The lights went out but the excitement was still bright as stellar favourites lingered, unplayed. Not one to disappoint, Matt, James and Charlie appeared to a phenomenal amount of cheers and screams to play the unforgettable ‘Year 3000’ and ‘3am.’ “A few months ago,” said Matt, “We drove from Philly to a small studio in New York to see if this could actually happen.” Looking around the arena it was clear to see this wasn’t just a one off reunion tour, but the beginning of the next chapter for the legendary pop punk trio. Review by Jessica Cooke