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“McBusted jump together. McBusted jump together,” the band chant in the style of the Mighty Ducks, channelling their positive mental energy during one of their many humorous skits. The world’s biggest supergroup are back, and after jumping through the stage at the end of their mammoth sell-out run of shows last year, their Most Excellent Adventure Tour sees them fall into a colourful 8-bit world.
If there’s one thing a McBusted show never fails to do, it’s present the unexpected. After entering the stage in a time-travelling DeLorean and performing on a floating UFO in 2014, this time sees them quite literally rocking out on the world’s largest arcade machine. It’s a simple but incredibly effective set, that has the six-piece dwarfed by a giant 30 foot-high screen, massive A, B and C buttons and two human-sized joysticks.
And it’s not just for show. This larger-than-life console actually works. To prove it, the group split into teams of three and battle it out on Street Fighter (for the Sega Mega Drive, no less), jumping on the buttons furiously, while Dougie Poynter grapples with a massive red joystick. It’s yet another slightly surreal moment from McBusted that showcases their knack for making their shows the most unique and imaginative experiences in pop.
Naturally, the arcade machine backdrop sets the theme for the show; a pastiche of late ’80s and ’90s references that range from Super Mario Bros and Saved By The Bell, to Blade Runner and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It helps to enhance the cheeky boyishness of their songs. ‘Air Guitar’ is a lose-yourself anthem that stomps with more force when amped up in the arena, while the still glorious ‘What I Go To School For’ is a sniggering ode to the adolescent fantasy.
Since their last headline shows, McBusted have released a debut album and their new material saddles up nicely next to their established hits. ‘Hate Your Guts’ is raucous and spiky, but packs a harder punch than a Ryu uppercut, ‘What Happened To Your Band’ sounds even better live with Matt and James’s vocals strong and defiant, while ‘Get Over It’s chorus is brimming with more energy than a Sonic The Hedgehog power-up.
However, it’s ‘Riding On My Bike’ that comes forward as the most surprising highlight here. Its ear worm refrain drenched in sugary electronics makes it McBusted’s most poppy song. Accompanied by a cartoonish backdrop with James Bourne cycling around the stage on a chopper, it fully realises its potential as the catchiest hook in their repertoire.
With so many hits to pack into the set, the onstage patter is significantly reduced when compared to their previous tour. That’s not to say they don’t have time to joke about losing their virginity, trying to embarrass Danny on his birthday, or on this particular occasion, have Dougie recite “Is that a nugget of poop in your knickers?” in a “creepy” Scottish accent. We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: McBusted are the masters of being loveable goofballs.
But the group know how to slow it down and take it seriously too. James and Danny are left on the B stage with only their guitars in hand to perform a soaring rendition of ‘Beautiful Girls Are The Loneliest’, reminding the crowd that underneath the jester hats are a group of genuinely talented musicians.
As much as the theatricality of the show is highly entertaining, McBusted never forget that their fans are there to hear the big ones. A finale of the astronomical ‘Star Girl’ and infectious ‘Five Colours In Her Hair’ hyper-charge the masses for a laser-assisted ‘Shine A Light’ and a tremendous goodbye in the form of ‘Year 3000’. It rounds off a show that feels remarkably quick, but packed full of hits without once compromising its pace.
Sticking true to their mantra McBusted jumped together with heart, and from start to finish the whole arena bounced around with them, but be prepared to keep up: these six guys are jumping higher than ever before.