On 14th January 2005, when I was thirteen years old, my world ended, as Busted held a press conference detailing the departure of guitarist Charlie Simpson, and thus the group had decided to disband. But our story begins two and a half years previously in August of 2002, when Busted launched themselves onto the Pop scene, revolutionising the face of the genre, from boy bands busting moves to boy BANDS rocking out with guitars around their necks.
One month later, What I Go to School For dropped, and everyone in the country fell for their bad boy persona, lusting after their teacher Miss McKenzie. But what really set them apart from other pop groups, was the appearance of their second single Year 3000. It was clear from the start that Busted didn’t want to conform to the “boy band love song” ideals, and just wanted to have fun, which was exactly what we did. After their third single You Said No went to number one, the band then entered the Guinness World Book of Records for having their three consecutive debut singles in ascending order. But that wasn’t the only achievement under their belts, their first self-titled album Busted, shot to number two in the UK Top 40, and has since been certified three times platinum.
Everything was going swimmingly for the band, with more hit singles and another hit album, BRIT awards, sell out tours, you name it, they had it. So when Charlie started his passion project Fightstar to outlet some of his pent-up creative energy, not a lot of people understood his decision. Nevertheless, their second album A Present for Everyone dropped and was stronger and more mature than their first record. But all was not well in the Busted camp. The band entered 2004 on rocky ground, and it was clear the foundations of the band were beginning to crack. Charlie looked increasingly unhappy, and Matt and James looked unhappy at the fact Charlie was unhappy. Consensus: everyone wasn’t happy. They’d been handed everything on a plate, so why the despondency? Busted embarked on what would be their final tour, and in the new year of 2005, the band was over.
Ever since that date, it was clear that Busted was well and truly finished. Charlie seemed glad to be rid of his pop-boy-band background, throwing himself into writing hardcore rock songs with Fightstar, and releasing two solo acoustic albums that received critical acclaim. James tried to ride on the crest of the pop-boy-band wave, and created Son of Dork, who had a more punk sound than Busted, but still showed that James’ songwriting talent was not tied to his former band. After Son of Dork disbanded, James retreated to LA and became a full-time song writer, penning hits for a variety of artists and developed Son of Dork’s album Welcome to Loserville into a musical titled Loserville. Matt stayed in the limelight and released a solo album, one that was underwhelming considering Matt’s talents as a musician and as a singer. Eventually he entered the I’m a Celeb jungle and went onto win, fully re-launching himself in a career as a TV presenter and personality. It seemed that each of them were doing just fine in their own way, but the fact that the boys weren’t close and didn’t speak still hurt the fan’s hearts.
So imagine our surprise when Matt and James joined good friends McFly on stage to perform a few of Busted’s hits during the 10th Anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall under the name McBusted, and things only got more exciting when McBusted announced that they would be touring and releasing new music together. It was almost as good as having the real thing, and considering Charlie had been bought out of the Busted name for a six figure sum, it seemed clear that it was all we were going to get in terms of a Busted reunion. So imagine our surprise when Matt, James and Charlie announced just that. The Busted reunion we had all been waiting for.
Throughout the 12 years of silence, there had been many whispers every now and again that something could happen, but had always been shot down by Charlie who was adamant that he would never, ever, rejoin Busted. After a while, it became a mantra to the fans. It just wasn’t going to happen. Then, different kinds of whispers emerged, not suggesting that Busted were back together, but that they had been in the studio together writing new music. It was this news that made the fans ears prick up, and eventually, after many more news stories reporting the same thing, Busted announced officially that they were getting back together, and would tour for the first time since their split.
Me and my good friend Rob immediately bought tickets for their first night back at Wembley Arena, as we knew it was going to be a special night, and boy were we right. It was the same arena where Busted had performed their last show, and so to see them in the same venue for their first show seemed fitting. Emma Blackery and Wheatus were great opening acts, fueling the fans with adrenaline, and the appearance of McFly in the crowd made us go wild. It seemed it wasn’t only us that had been waiting 12 years, McFly had been too.
Then, the moment was finally here, as Busted returned via trap doors in the stage and broke out into their newest single Coming Home, which they had given away to the fans for free. Then, they swiftly moved onto the hits everyone was waiting for, following up with Air Hostess and Falling For You, both from their second album. The night took an emotional turn, as the three boys we once knew, who had grown into men, circled each other, smiling and laughing as if 12 years hadn’t passed at all.
They then went onto play Everything I Knew from their first album, which had, in some ways, become a soundtrack to the news that Busted were due to split all those years ago. Although it was somewhat an underrated track from their self-titled debut, its inclusion in the set list made it all the more meaningful.
“Everything I knew, just went out the window, now I can’t depend on you forever. I never thought I’d see my life walk away from me, I thought we’d always be together… You didn’t have to pay for every word I’d say, and I wish I could change your decision…”
I’m not going to lie. I shed a tear or two.
“Lets go back, lets rewind to the days that remind me of all the good times that we spent together, and I don’t know why we just let it all slide when we both knew inside we were right for each other.”
It felt very poignant hearing those lyrics, watching them play together after so long, after all the harsh words that had been probably been exchanged behind closed doors. The boys continued an amazing set with their first number one single, You Said No, That Thing You Do, from their second album, and a personal favourite of mine, which was completely unexpected, Dawson’s Geek.
Then, the guys moved to the B-Stage, which was set up in the middle of the arena and decorated with vintage rugs and a glorious chandelier. The crowd, completely enthralled by Act 1 of the concert began to chant Charlie’s name, to let him know just how happy we were to have him back. Act 2 continued with Who’s David an Easy, a new mellow rock song that the boys had written together in the Philadelphia sessions. Before Act 3 of the show began, we were treated to “the soundtrack for us getting back together,” said Charlie, as he looked meaningfully to James and Matt, as if to say, yes, I’m really back and you have no idea how happy I am that I’m here. At that moment, all thoughts of “doing it for the money” or “publicity” went out the window. No one could deny the vibe that we were all riding on. The boys then began to play Meet You There, the song they had re-recorded at Abbey Road to help announce their come back.
“I’m waiting, for the perfect time to call you back, cause I remember saying I don’t want to know the truth, can’t handle that… It’s written all over your face, such a painful thing to waste, tell me now where do we go? Now the future’s not so clear, I can’t believe we’ve ended here…”
More tears were shed.
“I’m sorry, if I slagged you down I meant no harm, but when I heard the stories I said things I didn’t mean, should have stayed calm. But sadly, you got angry, and it breaks my heart, you’re so mad at me…”
It felt like a public apology between the boys, and for the fans too. Yes, 12 years has passed, and we’re all sorry, but we’re here now, and that’s what matters.
For Act 3, the boys moved back to the main stage and treated us to another new song titled One of a Kind, in which James played the key-tar, which he had apparently been trying to shoe horn into Busted songs for years. Then, we had another string of hits, Thunderbirds Are Go, Sleeping with The Light On and Why, which was Charlie’s personal diary entry from A Present for Everyone, and seemed to further give context on what had been going on inside 2004-Charlie’s head, and the reasons why Busted split in the first place.
“Just talk to me a while and joke about the things we used to see, it’s so hard for me to smile. I’ve never felt so alone, after all of this there’s so much left to lose… but how can I complain, when everybody seems to know my name? You’re out of luck and I’m out of line. It’s such a selfish compromise, a self-indulgent useless bunch of lies…”
Why is a favourite of mine because it’s so honest and gritty and I felt like we finally understood Charlie’s motives and reasons for leaving the band. It was the perfect note to end on, as if all the loose ends had been tied up, and all the wounds had healed. After that, the hits continued Crashed the Wedding and What I Go to School For, with an encore of 3am and Year 3000. Then just like that, it was over. The boys took a bow and thanked the crowd for such a warm welcome. The show we had been waiting 12 years for was over and Busted had performed together again. If the world had ended the next day, I would have died a happy fan. Finally, The boys put their arms around each other and took a photo to commemorate their first gig as a group, showing just how happy they are to be back together – and we can’t tell you just how happy we are too.