If you’ve never been to The O2 Forum in London it’s worth a visit. For a start, Kentish Town has come a long way since my last visit. Artisan coffee shops and sourdough pizza restaurants have replaced the imminent threat of death and violence, so I was already in a good mood, and alive, when I arrived at The O2 Forum for the McFly gig.
The Forum is small, intimate, immediately appealing. A high theatrical ceiling provides enough space for the sound, but wherever you’re standing it never feels very far from the stage. I was surprised. I thought McFly would be cashing in on this ‘greatest hits’ tour by playing bigger capacity venues. I wondered why they’d chosen The Forum. I didn’t have to wait too long to find out, but there was still time to assess the audience.
Girls mainly. There were a few blokes in the audience, but not many. And the blokes didn’t know the words. Not like the girls. Not like ‘Mazza and Madface,’ the two teenagers I had the pleasure of reviewing the finer points of the McFly anthology with. Madface explained that this wasn’t, in fact, a ‘cashing in’ tour or a ‘greatest hits tour’. The McFly boys had at least two new albums in the can but simply hadn’t released them because of their recent McBusted activity. So we have that to look forward to…
Mazza and Madface melted back into the crowd leaving me to survey the audience. There was a lot of pink hair in homage to Tom’s least carefully considered look. Some even had five colours in their hair, hoping that we’d all appreciate the nostalgia. We did. Others had horn-rimmed specs and beanies from another of the McFly eras and I started to appreciate the belonging that these girls felt towards the group. It wasn’t just fangirl, it felt more tribal – a togetherness that I haven’t felt at other gigs for years.
As the atmosphere built, we had a short set from ‘My’. I’m still not sure if that’s the name of the band, the lead singer, the music ‘project’ (her word) or one of the band’s tracks. They’re Swedish. I just allowed that to explain everything. Most support acts are constrained by the scale of the venue they’re playing in and the lack of amplification they have (or are allowed) to fill the space. No so with My. This was proper power pop with all the moves and shapes to deliver an impressive few numbers. “I feel invincible…” she sang, and for a moment there, I nearly did. More at www.ohheymy.com.
The lights dimmed and I couldn’t quite believe that YMCA by Village People was being broadcast at volume through the PA. I started smiling. By the time we reached the first chorus the entire audience – the ENTIRE audience – was bouncing, arms in the air, forming the shapes YMCA. It was fantastic. Then the lights came on, the McFly boys were on stage and, boom, now we were bouncing to Five Colours.
The crowd went apoplectic. Totally at leave from their senses. The noise. Oh. My. God. The screaming. I’ve heard some gig noise in my time but the last time I heard this kind of noise I was at a Bay City Rollers gig back in the day. (That’s another story for another day children…). I could feel my eardrums flex. My eyeballs wobbled in their sockets. The noise from the crowd literally sucked the air out of my lungs. It was amazing. It was the best emotional and sensory start to any gig I’ve ever seen. And I’ve been seen ‘The Rollers,’ remember. I didn’t have this marked in my calendar as the perfect night out, but it turned out pretty close to that.
The band swung between some hard rocking versions of old favourites to some beautifully sensitive acoustic harmonies. That Girl was played up-tempo almost to a punk vibe, whereas Not Alone was delivered with acoustic subtlety I didn’t think could be achieved live. McFly isn’t just another boy band. I’m not convinced they were ever just that. Any band that can put together the quality of build demonstrated in This Is Love is worthy of respect and commendation. This gig wasn’t about solo efforts. They were all good individual performances, but this McFly gig was about what can be achieved when a band plays together. The total is greater than the sum of the parts. Just ask Busted.
Well done boys – from the heart – and as we all heard at the end of Thursday’s show, The Heart Never Lies. I walked into that gig rolling my eyes at the prospect of another two McFly albums. Now I can’t wait.
If you missed the dates, fear not, there’s still time to buy the t-shirt – https://mcfly.tmstor.es/
I walked into that gig rolling my eyes at the prospect of another two McFly albums. Now I can't wait.