The past 10 years for Busted have been a strange mix. Having split on bad terms back in 2005, the three-piece boyband went their separate ways. Charlie toured with Fightstar before turning to a solo career. James formed pop rock band Son of Dork and turned his hand at writing a West End musical. And after a brief stint in rehab after the band split, Matt launched an arguably unsuccessful solo career and dabbled in acting with a brief appearance in EastEnders.
After a few years out of the spotlight, James and Matt joined forces with McFly in 2013 to form the super group McBusted. They did two successful tours, performing classic tracks by both bands, as well as songs from their new joint album. Whilst many enjoyed the invention of this new super group and the opportunity to hear old Busted songs, there was one question that hung over like a dark cloud; is Charlie coming back? At the end of 2015, after McBusted had fizzled out, speculations of Charlie returning to Busted were rife on social media, and in November that year, everyone’s wishes came true; Charlie was back. Having released their third album Night Driver at the end of 2016, the band are now performing it live across the country, arriving in Manchester on Thursday night to a packed out venue.
“It’s a Friday night in Manchester and it’s gonna be a fucking good night.”
In one of the most infamous venues that Manchester has to offer, Irish singer songwriter Gavin James takes to the Gorilla stage to a screaming crowd. With nothing but a couple of guitars to aid him, the 25-year-old stands solo on stage. Tonight there are no gimmicks – all eyes and ears are focussed on him.
In the packed out dimly lit room, James announces before his opening song, “it’s so smoky in here it’s like we’re in a fucking cloud.” With all the effing and blinding, it’s hard to believe that such a pure and delicate voice comes from the same person. But as the guitar riff for opening song, ‘Til the Sun Comes Up’ begins, the crowd fall silent and James’ voice begins to resonate around the room. With not a single phone screen to be seen, the room is submerged into pure darkness, with just the faintest spotlight beaming on James. The audience are clearly absorbing his refined and crisp voice, as the room stands so still and quiet that you could hear a pin drop.
Screaming is part and parcel of going to a live show nowadays, but the sound that comes from inside Manchester Arena for 5 Seconds of Summer’s second night in the city is like nothing else.
The Australian four-piece have had a successful few years, having previously supported One Direction on two worldwide tours, gaining them a loyal fan base. Since then, the band have gone on to release two albums and play to larger audiences each year.
It’s no surprise then that as the lights come up and the band run on for opening song ‘Carry On’, the screaming from the thousands of adolescent girls gets unimaginably louder. Comments such as, “oh my god I get to hear my favourite songs live” can only just be heard over the crying and emotional displays from nearby girls.
Although outside the popular Manchester venue it feels like the middle of winter, once the doors open and the venue starts filling up, the atmosphere inside is like something of a festival. Excited fans run to the front to get a good view of the band, young girls are scantily dressed as if the sun is beating down on them and people are sitting high above the crowd on each others shoulders, ready for the sold-out final night of Rudimental’s UK tour.
The three and a half thousand capacity venue is a small crowd for the drum and bass group from Hackney, especially compared to the size audiences they’ve faced before at festivals like T in the Park and the biggest of all, Glastonbury. The capacity, however, is irrelevant when you take in the enormous energy and immense buzz coming from the fans in this packed out venue.
It may be cold, windy and damp outside on the streets of Manchester, but inside the 250 capacity venue, the Deaf Institute, the temperature couldn’t be more different. With support act D/C setting the tone for the night with their soulful cool vibes and catchy pop riffs, the Atlantic Records signed singer gets the audience hot and sweaty ready for Anne-Marie, Rudimental’s main female vocalist, to set the stage.
Wasting no time, the three times world karate champion jumps straight in with the lead single off her first EP, Karate. Explaining how nervous she is about the opening night of her first solo tour, Anne-Marie shows little sign of it in her vocals, leading into the second track off her EP, Gemini, a heavily influenced 90s R&B track. Rounding up the EP with the first ballad of the night, Stole, Anne-Marie cannot help but well up – “that was quite emotional. I can’t help it. I always get a tear in my eye.”
For some, the name Anne-Marie may not ring many bells, but you’re almost certain to have heard some of the tracks she has featured on recently. Having toured with English drum and bass duo Rudimental for the past two years as their lead live vocalist, Anne-Marie has started to make a name for herself performing on the band’s tracks ‘Love Ain’t Just a Word’ with Dizzee Rascal and ‘Rumour Mill’ with Will Heard, and has recently collaborated with Wretch 32 on ‘Alright With Me’.
Now Anne-Marie is making a name for herself with the release of her EP ‘Karate’ last year, followed by singles ‘Boy’ and more recently, ‘Do It Right’. Best described as a fusion of R&B, hip-hop and pop, Anne-Marie’s music stands out for all the right reasons in today’s heavily crowded music scene.