BUSTED and support Natives left Manchester in a state of euphoria last night, at the O2 Apollo, with their come-back tour ‘Night Driver’.

After the success of the McBusted tour, Busted regrouped with Charlie Simpson last year for an arena tour – but this is their first tour back with a new album. They even chose to play smaller venues like the O2 Apollo; despite selling out arenas on the last one.

These shows have had a more intimate quality and show us that they might not be as greedy as fans first thought, after many debating whether their comeback was only down to a large pay-cheque. Last night they proved all those people wrong as their passion for their new musical direction shone through and smashing the classics like ‘Year 3000’- leaving a packed O2 Apollo with an uplifting, party-esque atmosphere.

Before the trio took to the stage, Natives got the crowd warmed-up. In the black shadow that was the stage, sounds resembling a rain-forest recording trickled through. Traditional African drumming then followed taking the audience on a journey to a Tarzan-like land.

Although, at times it did sound like the Rugrats theme tune could have had an influence over this. This jungle feel was solidified with their opening track ‘Chasing Lions’ and the tribal prints in their choice of attire.

Natives’ groovy energy was contagious; leading to the removing of bras in the audience. They had a simple stage set-up and their set list showcased how percussion and rhythmic instruments can take center stage and still sound/be popular without unnecessary gimmicks.

They were hard to fault-being picky they could have played some older, more indie songs, to avoid their newer releases sounding similar. Their interaction with the Manchester crowd was also quite ordinary, so perhaps they could work on creating more of a unique presence.

But, they did their job. Everyone was moving-especially on the dance number ‘Stop the rain’. It is however, a real shame that when they come back in June, they will only be playing the Deaf Institute. They could easily headline the Apollo or Academy.

Busted’s first appearance, half hour after Natives finished, felt awkward and uncomfortable at first. They opened with a new album track ‘Kids with Computers’ which was satisfactory, but they seemed divided on the stage. With James Bourne, Charlie Simpson and Matt Willis in separate areas of the stage -Simpson taking the center. They just didn’t seem like a trio; more alike three people playing music, who happened to be on the same stage.

This changed as they got into the swing of it by ‘On What You’re On’-the third song of the set, also doubling as one of the highlights. The funky, synth-pop direction of this one is comparable to Daft Punk, in particular their ‘Get Lucky’ song. It seems that the years apart, and away from the pop industry, has matured Busted-turning them into smooth groovers rather than edgy pop-punkers.

It was also warming to see Simpson really get into the songs and he gave a passionate vocal on ‘Without it’; with a roughness reminiscent of his days as front man in FightStar. His prominence on the night, being further backed by him being the most talkative between songs and mobile on stage could also be because he has been the most musically active before the reunion, perhaps making him more at home on stage. Fans originally had mixed views about his return, so it’s great to see him enjoying being back, to show them it’s not just about the money.

On the other hand, it has to said that Willis, although cringe worthy in his dad-style dance moves, did make a real effort, it just didn’t seem as natural and he revealed his favorite song off the album is ‘I Will Break Your Heart’.

It clearly wouldn’t be a Busted gig without the classics: ‘Year 3000’, ‘That’s What I Go To School For’, ‘Air Hostess’, ‘Crashed The Wedding’ and more. They additionally tweaked ‘Who’s David’ or “Spruced Up” to fit their new style.

The genre changed for Busted hasn’t lost them an adoring army of followers and their typical catchiness that hooks you in still remains, with each of their songs (old and new) ensnaring the senses. They finished with blasts from a confetti canon and smoke which was as classy as their light display behind them throughout the set. It wasn’t tacky, they weren’t trying too hard, it was just right-once they got into it-perfected by the addition of a live saxophonist who appeared and disappeared through the set list.

After Willis promises “We’ll keep fu****g coming back” and “This is just the start”- leaving the fans in a frenzied excitement, it seems there may indeed be a seventh album in the year 3000-if they stay together this time.

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