Well, what an amazing night!! My ears are still ringing!! On 5th March 2004 I went to see Busted at the NEC in Birmingham. It was the first time I'd been to the NEC and the first time I'd seen Busted live, so I was really looking forward to the whole thing. I took my younger cousin along with me - It was her first ever concert! Anyway, we arrived at the NEC around 6:30pm, which was good because it gave us a chance to get merchandise, find our way around and beat all of the queues! As we were walking towards the arena we passed the band's tour buses parked outside. I knew what they looked like as I'd seen them on TV - Huge, gold double decker coaches (3 in all - Probably one for each band!) We had a quick check to see if anyone was about, but decided to make our way into the arena. Busted's main fan base are quite commonly thought of as young teenagers, but it was great to see people of all ages at the concert.
That's something I love about Busted and their music - I think it appeals to people of all ages! People had also made the effort to dress up for the occasion - Some in school ties (to reflect the video of 'What I Go To School For'), ribbons, Busted T-Shirts, customised shirts and also people in normal hoodies and their everyday clothes. It was quite funny seeing the mum's and dad's there though who had obviously just taken their kids along and weren't really interested in the show themselves (Although, by the end I think EVERYONE was joining in!).
This may sound strange, but the arena felt quite intimate and wasn't as big as I'd imagined. Before the show, adverts and a special 'TV' show was being played on the screens either side of the stage. 'V' and 'McFly' had made their own adverts, which were shown along with the band's music videos. It was quite amusing to watch everyone start screaming when an advert for a Busted ring tone or wallpaper came up on the screen or if they appeared in the montage of singers and bands! To pass the time, someone in the room started a Mexican wave, which spread around the audience - It eventually worked really well and looked great! Soon, the lights dimmed and the first opening act, 'V' came on stage. Unlike McFly and Busted, 'V' are more of a typical boyband who dance and sing. I liked their forthcoming single, 'Blood Sweat And Tears' and they seemed to be enjoying themselves, but I'm not really into the whole boyband/dancing thing. After about four songs, McFly came to the stage! I love McFly's music - "They rock 60's style!" - To quote James Bourne!
Even though I didn't know many of the songs, they all sounded really catchy and made me want to go out and buy the album when it's released. They closed their set with their debut single, '5 Colours In Her Hair', which is groovy baby!! It's The Beatles meets Busted meets Austin Powers meets The Monkees! At one point, we all had to shout "Hello!" to Danny's (The guitarist) mum who was in the audience. They also joked that they'd heard Birmingham was the loudest city - And from where I was sitting I think it could be possible!!
After a short break and more screaming at videos and ringtone adverts it was time for Busted! The curtain lifted to reveal a futuristic looking stage. Surrounding the drummer, keyboardist and guitarist were slopes and a large platform at the back. At the front of the stage were three trapdoors surrounded by smoke and a video of Busted was playing on the large screen behind. You could feel the tension and buzz in the room as the smoke grew along with the music. I could tell what was going to happen....Suddenly James, Charlie and Matt shot out of the three trapdoors and rocked straight into 'Air Hostess' from their latest album, 'A Present For Everyone'. The crowd went wild!!! What an entrance!! Because the room was in darkness, everyone's colourful flashing lights (that were available to buy outside) were showing up beautifully - It looked like Blackpool illuminations! We had a terrific view of the stage and could see the guys clearly, but they were also being filmed, so they showed up on the big screens either side of the stage.
James kept pulling faces down the camera, so that it looked like he was staring straight at the audience from the screen!! I was worried James wouldn't be singing as he'd burnt his tongue on a spark from the pyrotechnics at a previous show and hadn't been singing so much. But tonight he was on top form - As were Matt and Charlie. They put so much energy and excitement into their performances and was amazing visually! Their sound was so close to the actual records too! They continued with tracks from both the new CD and their debut CD including, '3am', 'That Thing You Do', 'Fake', 'Nerdy' and 'She Wants To Be Me'. For each song they had a different video showing on the screen. Some were extended versions of their promo videos and some were videos they'd made especially for the tour. The most memorable ones were for the videos 'That Thing You Do' and 'Better Than This'. For 'Better Than This', Matt left his bass and explored the stage!! This was his solo spot and as I said before, he put so much energy into this number and was one of the highlights of the night. The black and white video of him walking in the background added to the effect.
I liked it when Matt patted James on the head (who was sitting on the stage playing the guitar for him) at the end of the song. Charlie also has a couple of solo numbers - Including a drum duet (Is that right?!) with their main drummer. Charlie was playing a drum kit on a raised platform at the rear of the stage. Brilliant drummer!! From that they went straight into their version of The Black Eyed Pea's song, 'Where Is The Love'. It was just so funny hearing them do it live!! Matt even included the now famous, 'Where is the love James?' and then said, "Where is the love Birmingham?!" They chatted to the audience in between songs and pointed out banners - Some I remember include, 'We Love Busted' and 'Matt can I play your G-String?'. James must have good eyesight as he read out a banner that was at the very back of the arena! As with nearly every act I see in Birmingham, Matt did the Birmingham accent! You could tell they were having as much fun as the audience and were as hot as we were by the looks of it! It was boiling in there! Towards the end of the show, Charlie put a pair of knickers (thrown by the audience!) on Matt's head and James couldn't stop laughing. He shouted out, "Ha ha ha, let's all laugh at Matt!" - Which we did!
From the start of the night everyone was dancing, shouting and singing along with them practically non-stop! Including me and my cousin!! You get swept along with the buzz of it all and I don't know how anyone could just sit and watch and not be moved by it all. During 'What I Go To School For' everyone was doing the 'Busted Jumps' in the chorus! Other highlights of the night included their version of The Undertones', 'Teenage Kicks', which they performed at The Brit Awards recently and their encore - Which was made up of 'Year 3000! (Wooooo hooooo!), 'You Said No' and my all time favourite, 'Sleeping With The Light On'. By now the pyrotechnics and special effects were on full and flames were rising from the stage and during 'SWTLO' a golden rain effect was cascading onto the stage from above - Truly magical!
It's not hard to see how poor James' was hit by a spark though. They closed the show with 'Crashed The Wedding' and their exit was as breathtaking as their entrance - With the crescendo of music, they put their guitars down and ran up the slopes on the stage to the point behind the drummer - Then one at a time they dived down a pit/hole in the stage. WOW!!!! I hope they had crash mats underneath!!
Again, it looked stunning! It was all over too soon. As we filed out of the arena, the smell of the flames and smoke still lingered in the air. With my merchandise in hand, we made our way into the rainy Birmingham night. Again, we passed their tour buses on the way back to the car park. Anyway, to conclude - Great guys, great music and a great night! They mentioned their new tour in November, which is called, 'A Tour For Everyone else' - But to quote a song, it's hard to imagine it being 'better than this'!