Standard gig outfit...
I may be a grown woman of 32, but there are some things in life that give me so much joy, I go right back to feeling like a kid again. Music is one of those things. For me, a song can change your mood, evoke memories, or simply make you want to get up and dance and that's a powerful thing. And live music - actually getting to see the band you love playing the songs you love, right there in front of you - is even better.
Most people who know me are aware that my musical tastes can be pretty diverse. I can go from listening to the Manic Street Preachers to the Spice Girls in the blink of an eye. I can be humming along to a Carpenters song one minute, then playing a musical theatre show soundtrack the next. I don't really engage in musical snobbery if I can help it - if I like something, then I like it.
Last year, my best friend Lydia and I went to Western-Super-Mare, to see a show headlined by McBusted - the supergroup formed when McFly teamed up with two out of three members of Busted.
It was on a beach and we got sunburnt, but it was EPIC.
To say that we were blown away would be an understatement. We went there principally to watch 5ive and The Backstreet Boys. We left with a full-blown, incurable McBusted obsession. We nervously awaited news as to whether the band would stay together and record an album once their sell-out tour and Summer appearances were over. Thankfully, we weren't disappointed; their self-titled debut was released in December last year and it was a magnificent pop-rock beast of an album. Lydia and I were excited by the idea of an album, not only because it meant new McBusted music to listen to, but because we fervently hoped that an album would mean another tour.
But how, we wondered, could they possibly top the 2014 shows? Their first tour featured fireworks, a flying DeLorean, three huge, inflatable boobs and a crazy amount of fun. It couldn't be bettered, surely?!
Well, this is McBusted. And if there's one thing we've come to learn about the band we love so much, it's that they don't do things by halves. Their brand new 2015 Most Excellent Adventure Tour (MEAT for short) won't disappoint any of their fans. It certainly didn't disappoint us!
What's fantastic about McBusted is the sheer level of thought that goes into everything they do. Their live shows are no exception. Their set for the MEAT tour was an enormous, old-school video arcade game. Huge buttons and joysticks adorned the stage, in front of a massive screen, showing computer graphics. And the best bit? It wasn't just for show - the whole set was actually a playable arcade game, for which the band had to jump onto the buttons and push the enormous joysticks in order to compete against each other. It was really impressive and added just another dimension of fun to the proceedings.
Of course, it's no good having all the fancy set and nothing to back it up with. Music is obviously an incredibly subjective thing, but for my money, McBusted are responsible for some of the best pop-rock songs in recent years. On the MEAT tour, classic McFly and Busted songs, such as Year 3000, Obviously, Air Hostess and Shine A Light were mixed in with the brand new, original McBusted songs from their debut album. Tracks like Air Guitar and Get Over It already sound massive on record, but they were bloody enormous when played live! The crowd joined in, shouting the lyrics back at the band and leaping around with delighted enthusiasm. The band are a tight unit when playing live and their energy and showmanship ensured that everyone was kept entertained. And if anyone doubted the musical ability of the band members themselves, they need only have heard James Bourne's gorgeous vocals on Beautiful Girls Are The Loneliest, to have been reassured that this is a band with real talent. When James' voice blended with that of McFly frontman, Danny Jones, the result was truly stunning.
McBusted are a band that know their fans and are more than happy to come up with ideas that will satisfy them on every level. And so it was that prior to performing Busted's Crashed The Wedding, the band held their own wedding of sorts, with Harry playing a priest (albeit a topless one) to the "bride" (Dougie) and "groom" (Matt), whilst Danny, Tom and James donned bridesmaids' dresses. Suffice to say, the scene was greeted with sheer joy from the fans. It's silly little moments like this that set McBusted apart - they don't take themselves too seriously. They just want to make their live shows as much fun as possible, for themselves as well as the paying audience. And it works, because when you can tell that a band are having the time of their lives on stage, you can't help but feel that sense of fun and enjoyment seeping into the crowd, too. The band are open enough with their fans that it doesn't feel as though they're having a great time without the audience being involved; in fact, the crowd are an integral part of a McBusted show and the gigs are all the more enjoyable as a result.
I always want to lose myself in a live show, fully embracing the experience as much as possible, but I couldn't resist taking a few photos. I'll post a few here, before telling you about the exciting thing that happened before the gig (yes, I'm telling events in reverse order, but there's a reason - I'm saving the best for last!)...
I'm pretty thrilled with some of the pictures I took!
And speaking of photographs...
Before the gig itself, Lydia and I were lucky enough to attend a meet & greet with the band themselves. It was one of those moments where you almost have an out-of-body experience; afterwards, it felt like I'd watched it happen, rather than actually lived it, but lived it I did!
We were all led upstairs to a conference room, dotted with circular tables and sofas, on which sat groups of very nervous and excited fans. Lydia and I were two of the last people to be taken into the room, so we stood, rather than sat. After ten minutes or so, a member of staff came into the room and ushered a group of 17 people into the corridor to form a line. Lydia and I were near the front of the line and that was when the nerves really kicked in. Suddenly, I was minutes away from meeting one of my absolute favourite bands (not to mention my number one celebrity crush, the lovely James Bourne!).
Our line was eventually taken into yet another conference room, but this one had a large screened area set up, which we all knew was where the band would be standing to meet fans and have photos taken. Because we were the first group to go in, the band hadn't actually arrived yet, so every time the double doors at the end of the room opened, everyone appeared to suffer a collective heart attack as we all turned in unison to see if it was McBusted. Finally, after what felt like dozens of false starts, the doors opened and in came Tom, Harry, Dougie, James and Matt. A huge cheer erupted from the waiting fans, followed swiftly by cries of "where's Danny?!" as we realised there was a band member missing. A minute or two later, the door opened again and Danny sauntered in, with a cheeky wave to the crowd.
Lydia and I were the third or fourth pair of fans to be taken to meet the band and I almost briefly forgot how to walk as I made my way over to talk to Harry and Matt, first. Everyone was lovely - our cheerleader outfits got a lot of attention (all of it positive!) and we had hugs from each band member, which was really nice. Considering that the band have been doing these meet & greets every night, meeting hundreds of fans over the course of this tour, they didn't seem fed up or jaded; we were greeted with smiles and warmth and it really made the whole experience incredibly special. It's not every day you can say you've met and had a cheeky cuddle with not one, but two people from your top ten celebrity crush list (don't judge me for actually listing them...).
All in all, it was an incredible evening and one I doubt I'll ever forget. The band, the music, the show... I don't think anything could have been done better. But I'm sure if there's another album and another tour, they'll find a way to prove me wrong!
From one very happy fan: thanks boys.
If anyone has a spare half an hour, in which to watch two girls whooping a lot, here's the vlog that Lydia and I made. Go on, check it out... ;-)