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.

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Coming Home: A Reunion 12 Years in the Making

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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blue butterfly – #17.12

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New York is just a feeling I get

when the cold air hits my face, the thought of getting ice cream

as the snow falls around, is just a fairy tale dream

I once lived, the feeling of your fingers on my skin,

we flashed fake diamond rings.

 

We got drive-thru coffee and marriage

made it official in the parking lot, we talked

about our wedding, trying to warm our cold feet.

We were the American

dream, running through the Catskill’s

hills, in the dead of night, moonlight like a spot light,

the night light of the fire flies, as we dance home,

ready to take flight. We acted like everything was

alright, like we had it all figured

out. Steak and fries.

Dinner and show,

It will be the greatest dream I’ll ever

remember

I know

 

knew.

Show Time by Phil Harvey – Review

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Harvey’s Show Time, a grotesque social commentary bridges the gap between The Hunger Games and Stephen King. It examines human nature, our morbid curiosity and our ever declining sensitivity towards violence. With the rise of social media, reality TV (sometimes “reality” TV), violent video games and the YouTube generation, our access to potentially harmful content is at it’s peak. Popular dystopian futures, like The Hunger Games and Divergent, often provide similar commentaries, but Harvey’s Show Time gives us a raw, gritty, darker side to these worlds, and shows an inevitable step up from the previous YA bestsellers.

Phil Harvey’s recent work is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Although Suzanne Collins opened the door to this genre of YA, readers are now thirsting for something deeper, and arguably more violent, which is exactly what Harvey provides, both in the novel’s synopsis and reveals some truth in the underlying message about human nature. Show Time tells the story of a world where future viewing audiences have become totally desensitized to violence and are eager to escape their boring workaday lives. This addiction is nurtured by the media with graphic portrayals of war and crime and with so-called reality programming. Now, TV execs have created the ultimate reality show: Seven people, each bearing the scars of his or her past, are deposited on an island in the middle of Lake Superior. Given some bare necessities and the promise of $400,000 each if they can endure it. The three women and four men risk death by starvation or freezing as the Great Lakes winter approaches. The island is wired for sound, and flying drones provide the video feed, so everything the contestants do and say is broadcast worldwide. Their seven-month ordeal is entirely unscripted, they can’t ask for help or they forfeit the prize, and as far as the network is concerned—the fewer survivors the better.

The opening prologue to Show Time does not disappoint, delivering a grisly gut wrenching moment that aims to set the whole tone of the book. Although the rest of the novel fell a little flat for me, the true horror was that Show Time depicts a world that one day could be our future.

From 28th October till 3rd November, Show Time by Phil Harvey will be 0.99 FOR THIS LIMITED TIME ONLY. Get your copy at:

Amazon – iBooks Barnes and Noble

Additionally, Gumroad are selling electronic copies of Show Time and an exclusive short story Across the Water: Tales of the Human Heart for only $1.99. Get your copy here: https://gumroad.com/l/ShowTime

Phil Harvey is an award-winning author, philanthropist and libertarian whose stories won a prize from Antietam Review and were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Find out more about Phil Harvey and his upcoming releases at: http://philharveylit.org/ 

Praise for Show Time

“Show Time is erotic and chilling in its portrayal of human survival. Entertainment serves government by dishing up the ultimate reality program to sate a nation of voyeurs and ensure the continuance of our most civilized of societies. Check your calendar—the future is already here.”Sal Glynn, scriptwriter, and author of The Dog Walked Down the Street

“Show Time is a gripping page-turner. Reality TV has never been more frighteningly real.”John Fremont, author, Sins of the Fathers

“A vision of the future that is laugh-out-loud, until we realize how much it looks like the world we live in now.”Frank S. Joseph, award-winning author of To Love Mercy

“A thrilling immersion in the emotional, physical, and sexual reality of characters who thought they were playing a game but find they must fight to survive.”Linda Morefield, senior review editor, The Washington Independent Review of Books

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