Those Days Are Gone: Busted’s Night Driver Tour marks a new era.

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Less than a year ago, I saw Busted reform in front of my very eyes at Wembley Arena in May 2016. Since then, the boys have completed their comeback tour, recorded and released their newest album Night Driver and begun a second tour promoting their new sound.

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When Night Driver was released back in November, I was completely bowled over and gave the album 5/5 when I reviewed it earlier in the year. So imagine my excitement when I heard they were going to be touring the new album AND they were coming to my home city, Brighton, to play. My good friend Rob and I snapped up tickets and spent the next few months stewing in our excitement waiting to see them.

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The physical set up compared to the Pigs Can Fly Tour is vastly different. The boys have gone from huge arenas to more intimate venues like O2 Academies and the Brighton Center, which meant that their staging was simple, compared to the Pig Sty which they exhibited on the Pigs Can Fly tour. It wasn’t plain by any stretch of the imagination, as the boys had cool strip lights behind them that pulsed, throbbed and flashed in time with the music.

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In fact, a lot of the set up for the new tour was different, including the set list as it now included songs from Night Driver. It was a great mix of old and new songs, the old mainly being their hit singles with the exception of Nerdy which is a fan favourite but was never released. You Said No didn’t make an appearance, much to my personal dismay, as I feel it’s one of their strongest. A girl can’t have it all though. As promised on their last tour, Thunderbirds didn’t make an appearance.

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The boys opened with Kids with Computers, which was a surprise to me considering that it comes further down the track-listing on Night Driver, and I assumed they would open with the title track or Coming Home like they had done on the Pigs Can Fly tour. Never the less, it was a strong opening, followed by Thinking of You, which was recently announced as the band’s newest single and On What You’re On, which started the ball rolling for the Night Driver era.

Air Hostess got the Busted purists in the crowd going and singing along, which meant there was a very clear divide between fans that wanted to come and sing along to the old songs, and fans that were, perhaps, more tolerable of the sound change. Never the less, it was an ice breaker for the fans that didn’t know the new material as well.

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Night Driver, the title track of the new album, completely lit up the room. Charlie’s front man role as been more established with the new record, as he takes most of the lead vocals and has swapped out the guitar for a synth machine. I worried he would look uncomfortable, as behind a guitar is clearly where he feels most comfortable, but he coped with the change well. For me, that was the moment when it felt confirmed in my mind that Charlie really is happy in Busted. He looked so at home that there should be no dispute.

Without It appeared after Nerdy, which in my eyes is strong enough to be a single. I Will Break Your Heart followed suit and was the perfect bridge between their old upbeat pop sound and their new 80’s influenced sound. Matt’s larger than life personality, as always, carries right to the back of the room. His passion and love, and natural show-man-ship was infectious, especially when he encouraged a dance competition and had no qualms dancing around the stage himself like a dork.

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The boys followed with a re-invention of one of their hit singles, Who’s David, that has been completely rearranged into a more mature sound. I’m now begging them all on Twitter for them to release it because it sounded so good! I didn’t manage to get a recording of it, but I’m hoping someone did. More classics followed suit, Sleeping with the Light On, Crashed the Wedding, 3am, and one of their strongest from the new record, New York, which was truly anthem-ic. Year 3000 ended the main part of the set, and left the crowd on a high before the boys came back again for an encore made up of What I Go to School For, Coming Home and my personal favourite Those Days Are Gone. 

James’s vocals, particularly his harmonies with Charlie, were on point and effortless. His cheeky, wacky nature was honed, but he set off his unique sparks throughout the show, dancing around like a goofball and reminding everyone to wear a seat belt whilst thanking them for coming to the show. Upon amping up the crowd, he cried, ‘I didn’t wear my shorts for nothing!’ Each of the boy’s brings something different to the band, which, in my opinion, is why the dynamic works. The transfer from recorded songs to live was great and shows their capability and legitimacy as a live band. I left the venue, singing and dancing all the way home, and I’m sure everyone else was too.

Ending on Those Days Are Gone, on the album and on the live set list, felt like a message to the fans. Those days are gone but we’re excited about the future and this is what it’s going to look like. The boys circled around each other like they did on the first night of their reunion tour when they played Coming Home. We’re here, it says, we’re here coming home. Those days really are gone, and I’m excited to find out what happens next.

5/5

The Children of Darkness by David Litwack – Review

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The Children of Darkness by David Litwack is the first book in a brand new dystopian series titled The Seekers, and having been given the Seal of Excellence by Awesome Indies and winning the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Best Science Fiction, this book already sits apart from others in it’s genre.

The novel poses the weighty question: “But what are we without dreams?”, which is true enough. Everybody has dreams, whether they remember them or not, and there has been many debates whether what you dream about reflects your wants and desires, hopes and fears, or what kind of person you are subconsciously.

Litwack’s novel tells the story of the Darkness. A thousand years ago the Darkness came–a time of violence and social collapse when technology ran rampant. But the vicars of the Temple of Light brought peace, ushering in an era of blessed simplicity. For ten centuries they kept the madness at bay with “temple magic,” eliminating the rush of progress that nearly caused the destruction of everything.

Orah and Nathaniel, grew up in a tiny village, longing for more from life but unwilling to challenge the status quo. When Orah is summoned for a “teaching”—the brutal coming-of-age ritual that binds the young to the Light—Nathaniel follows in a foolhardy attempt to save her. In the prisons of Temple City, they discover a secret that launches them on a journey to find the forbidden keep, where a truth from the past might unleash the potential of their people, but may also cost them their lives.

When I first began reading this book, I was pleasantly surprised. The opening section of the novel has such a haunting feel to the writing, similar, I felt, to The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Also, the dynamic between Orah, Nathaniel and Thomas gives a sense of deja vu, as we as young readers, are also trying to find our place in the world. This made me immediately connect with the characters, and identify myself within them. Having said that, Thomas’s tricky character post-teachings made the perfect mystery subplot. The beginning sections that describe Little Pond sounded idyllic, and secluded, perfect for a creeping, haunting read such as this. Although I found it difficult to get hooked initially, there were so many layers to this book, waiting to be stripped back.

You can purchase the book on Amazon here.

Praise for David Litwack.

“A tightly executed first fantasy installment that champions the exploratory spirit.”Kirkus Reviews

“The plot unfolds easily, swiftly, and never lets the readers’ attention wane… After reading this one, it will be a real hardship to have to wait to see what happens next.”Feathered Quill Book Reviews

“… a fantastic tale of a world that seeks a utopian existence, well ordered, safe and fair for everyone… also an adventure, a coming-of-age story of three young people as they become the seekers, travelers in search of a hidden treasure – in this case, a treasure of knowledge and answers… a tale of futuristic probabilities… on a par with Huxley’s Brave New World.”Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite

“The quality of its intelligence, imagination, and prose raises The Children of Darkness to the level of literature.”Awesome Indies

“…a solid fantasy-dystopian offering, one that is not merely written by some author looking for a middling entry to the genre, but excellently crafted by an artist looking to make his mark… A timely novel beautiful in the simplicity of its writing and elegant in its underlying complexity.” — Eduardo Aduna for Readers’ Favorite

“I found the world-building surrounding the people of the Ponds so descriptive that I was transported to their homes and way of life, and when the trio embarked on their journey, I could clearly picture them every step of the way. If you’re looking for a classic fantasy quest wrapped in a fascinating, dark archaic world, then this novel will not disappoint you.”K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

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Top 10 Books I Read in 2015 (8 & 7)

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Today I’ll be detailing the books that came eighth and seventh in my top ten list of books I read in 2015.

First up, at number eight is Size Doesn’t Matter by Meg Cabot.

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(Author’s Note: In some countries, this book is titled Big Boned)

Life is reasonably rosy for plus-size ex-pop star turned Assistant Dormitory Director and sometime sleuth Heather Wells. Her freeloading ex-con dad is finally moving out. She still yearns for her hot landlord, Cooper Cartwright, but her relationship with “rebound beau,” vigorous vegan math professor Tad Tocco, is more than satisfactory. Best of all, nobody has died lately in “Death Dorm,” the aptly nicknamed student residence that Heather assistant-directs. Of course every silver lining ultimately has some black cloud attached. And when the latest murdered corpse to clutter up her jurisdiction turns out to be her exceedingly unlovable boss, Heather finds herself on the shortlist of prime suspects. – from Goodreads.com 

I read the first two books in the Heather Wells mysteries in 2010 whilst I was travelling on my gap year, and only read the third, fourth and fifth books in the series recently. What originally drew me to Size 12 is Not Fat, the first book in the series, was it’s body positive attitude, and also the murder mystery style themes of the narrative. This set of books is a prime example of the mantra ‘never judge a book by it’s cover‘, as the installments seem to be represented as romance novels, rather than of the crime genre. Although there is romance a-plenty in this quintet, what really sold the book to me was Heather Wells’ character and ammeter sleuthing, something that all crime fans probably aspire to. I gave this book four out of five stars.

(Honourable mention goes to Size 12 and Ready to Rock and The Bride Wore Size 12, both of which I read on Kindle and do not have physical copies of just yet.)

Next, we have Lorali by Laura Dockrill at number seven.

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Colourful, raw, brave, rich and fantastical – this mermaid tale is not for the faint-hearted. Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn’t exactly how Rory had imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place is discovering where she has come from. – from Goodreads.com 

What I loved about Lorali was the fact it was set in Hastings, which is the town over from where I live in Bexhill. Hastings is a town full of history, rich with depth and mystique, perfect, in fact, for a fantasy novel. Couple this with some vivid poetic description and lyrical narration, and you’ve got yourself a winner in my eyes. This charming book was a joy to read, and presented story-telling at it’s finest. I gave this book five stars.

Tomorrow I’ll have a look at numbers six and five of my top ten list, and we’ll see which books narrowly missed out on top five status.