More than a decade after the first flush of stardom ended with frayed relationships and a forcible split in the band, Busted’s announcement last year that they would be reconvening for Night Driver, their first album in 13 years - following the aptly-titled ‘Pigs Might Fly’ reunion tour – came with much bullish talk that the public should adjust our perceptions of them as saccharine teen-pop jobsworths.
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Clearly, the aim was to do a Take That; to take all that nostalgic cachet they’ve retained over the years and somehow transform it into ongoing mainstream success for a more mature audience.
On the evidence of their live show, the fans (the majority of them female and ecstatically noisy) may no longer be quite teenaged, but the band retain an awareness that they’re here because they want to feel that way for a night.
While the trio (Matt Willis, James Bourne and unexpected returnee Charlie Simpson, who quit for his own emo-rock career with Fightstar) have restyled as black-clad and moody men in their early thirties playing coolly zeitgeist-grabbing synth-pop, the concert hall version of Busted 2017 are unafraid to hammer out raucous, fist-pumping versions of cute-punk hits including Crashed the Wedding, Year 3000 and What I Go To School For.
Perhaps the language in their between-song thanks was rawer than it was before, their backdrop a more austere assembly of neon-lit towers, but they balanced the needs of misty-eyed fan service with their own evident desire to write a worthwhile new chapter in their careers; Night Driver’s title track and standout songs like New York and the aptly-titled closer Those Days Are Gone radiate with synthesiser-led maturity and familiar pop acuity. It appears the Take That miracle has been repeated.