McBusted review – punk-pop supergroup cum pop-culture satire

O2 Arena, London
With their self-consciously plastic moniker, nostalgic culture-exploiting stage act and songs that seem to lampoon the competition, there has to be more going on with McBusted than catchy power chords

As six men staring down their 30s – one pirate, one geek, one vampire, one skater, one TOWIE and one drummer - leap out of trapdoors in the world’s biggest working arcade machine, it strikes you: how could the unholy matrimony between McFly and Busted, minus the latter’s former singer Charlie Simpson, be anything other than a genius satire?

Consider the evidence. Their composite moniker sounds exactly like a cheap, mass-produced version of a punk-pop band whose every song would resemble a CBeebies Green Day, as if commenting on brand-centric age when no Sugababe is indispensible. They’re grown men, playing to arenas of twentysomething women and dutiful boyfriends, who still deliver saccharine power-pop anthems with moronically trite lyrics about year-nine teen-boy concerns: approaching “out of your league” girls (Beautiful Girls Are the Loneliest, You Said No), phoning them from their front gardens in the middle of the night (3am), and inevitably getting dumped (Get Over It). They pillory nostalgia culture by theming their McBusted’s Excellent Adventure tour around a 1986 of Atari and Matthew Broderick few here could remember. Between-song banter about “boobs!”, “poop on a stick!” and Matt Willis’s stinking genitals surely lambasts Blink-182; the anti-critic One for the Radio pastiches Green Day’s hollow rebel aesthetic; and they even lampoon their own marriage of convenience with a full-costume bridal procession down the aisles before Crashed the Wedding. This can’t just be a bunch of formulaic chancers huddling together to survive the One Direction monsoon. Can it?

Whatever, McBusted revel enjoyably in their naffness. They bound about like boardless skaters, playing solos with each other’s teeth; have a game of Street Fighter on the gigantic joysticks; and time-jump to a B-stage in a wire-lowered Back to the Future DeLorean. A Kiss-Cam encourages couples to snog along to the cheesy All About You and, after a Teenage Dirtbag-aping Year 3000, they leave the stage down a Super Mario pipe. Relentlessly catchy and knowingly ludicrous, McBusted stick to your brain like toxic sparkly bubblegum. Insert coin, continue.

• At Brighton Centre, on 7 April. Box office: 0844 847 1515. Then touring.


Mark Beaumont

The GuardianTramp

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