This live concert album recorded during the Manchester leg of their A Present for Everyone tour, which was the predecessor for the subsequent live DVD featuring an extra 4 tracks and bonus material, was released on the eve of Busted's impending break-up and it seemed the record company knew all about it, releasing the band's first live album which features all the singles, serving as something of a greatest hits live edition. The album was released on 1st November 2004 and as well as having all the singles, there is 1 other song from their latest album A present for everyone, their cover of The Undertones' Teenage kicks, which they performed at The Brit Awards.; I know I am in a select few people when I say this but I think their cover is far, far better than the original, with a much more rock sound, and there's the studio version of their movie theme tune Thunderbirds are go!. The album only made it to number 11 in the UK chart.
The album's artwork has pictures of the boys playing their instruments and photos of them onstage. The album's length is a mere 43:05, which doesn't include the whole concert and is suitable for the fans with a less significant attention span!
The album begins with 2 and a half minutes of just fans screaming and echo effects from their singles, which may put you into that concert atmosphere and give anticipation the 1st time but is quite boring to relive everytime you listen to the album and you'll probably end up skipping it. Then begins the intro to Air hostess which starts us off very nicely. Yes the songs do sound similar to the original versions and there are no significant changes, but isn't that what most people want when going to see a band anyway, especially their teenage audience, which made up about 95% of the fan-base? The concert is performed well and the guys can definitely play their instruments, no matter what any of the haters say, but my problem is that besides the 1 non-single addition of the terrible That thing you do and the great Teenage kicks cover the album just sticks to the singles. My other issue is that with a live concert the boys should be able to be less restricted and shouldn't have to conform to the record label's ridiculously clean standards. It's completely shocking how they can't use any swearing or sexual words at all. It's far worse than on the albums. There was a considerable amount of censorship on their second album (which was understandable) but surely in concerts they shouldn't have to still be squeaky clean because people should expect different live. If you've heard on the album then why remove it from the concert?! The label were clearly holding this band back live by moulding them into something they weren't. A clear example of this is on What I go to school for where on the single version Matt says he wants to get to the front of class "to get the best view of her ass" but he can't say that live! Why?! He then cheekily slips in 'boobies' instead afterwards!
Charlie and James sound good live (besides James doing some whiney "Lets go" lyrics etc.) but Matt sounds quite basic live. He said on the `Present' thankyou's about the production making him sound good and I can see why. I know he suffered with addiction and heavy smoking for years and it was clearly taking its toll on his voice here. The introduction to Who's David is great with Charlie asking if anyone in the audience is called David and James showing his sense of humour, starkly aware of his band's fan-base and concert goers with "Yeah, are there any girls out there called David?!". Oddly enough on Thunderbirds Charlie says the word 'ass' - maybe he was told not to but ignored it; it's very strange how he can say it in that context but Matt couldn't say it! You said no is my favourite but I think this live version is quite a mild performance of the original. On year 3000 at the start of the second verse the music drops out for Simpson's voice, which is a nice touch, but at the lyrics "triple breasted women..." the boys completely change the lyrics "Totally naked', where it sounds like Matt and James drop out and Charlie shouts "with their titties out"! Now I don't know if he was meant to say that or he didn't give a damn at this point but that's quite a significant point! At the bridge Matt and Charlie amuse themselves by repeating a lyric, which is a funny moment. It's good hearing the fans singing along to the 1st verse of Sleeping with the light on and it's quite nostalgic. That's it for the concert and whereas the studio version of Thunderbirds ruins the atmosphere it is definitely one of their best songs.
I never did bother to get the DVD version of this concert and I don't know if I ever will but if you haven't got that then this is a must-have for any fan of Busted. Seeing as this was recorded towards the end of their career it's quite historical really. It may not be a showing of the greatest live band or three-piece live act ever and these guys weren't exactly amazing live, but to be fair 2 of the boys were 21 and Simpson was still 19 here so it's not bad either! As I've said too they were really not helped by the label either who didn`t give them the room to meet their potential. Definitely worth the buy even just as a collection piece.