They only toured in April and May earlier this year, but McFly couldn’t resist the temptation for a big tenth anniversary celebration, and boy is it good.
Taking over the iconic Royal Albert Hall for four nights (increased from two after selling out in no time at all), McFly were prepared to treat fans to something special, whether they’d been following the band for ten years or just one. Happily, I was there on the first night (Thursday 19th September) so everything happened for the first time, including some notable first ever moments.
With no support band, McFly were able to play a good sized show, with breaks provided by video messages on a big screen from the band themselves, celebrity friends and fans, all of whom wished the band a happy anniversary, reflected on the last ten years and expressed wishes for their good run to continue. These often comprised an introduction into the next little section of the show, such as when Chris Moyles introduced Star Girl, and the first two VTs which chronicled the years around the first two albums.
So, after the first VT, the gig started with a set of songs from McFly’s first album: Saturday Night and Surfer Babe, both of which have been little heard since the band’s first tour, and Obviously and Room On The Third Floor, which are consistently played. This balance of the usual and the new or lesser heard songs was one of the concert’s biggest strengths: we heard every song that is a necessity for a McFly gig, but with many surprises thrown in.
The first major, unexpected moment was when Dougie ran from his normal position up through the crowd; it was unclear what he was doing until he appeared front and central at the world famous Royal Albert Hall organ. He then proceeded to play the organ introduction to Transylvania (after a lot of shushing the crowd so they could hear it), which was a totally memorable way for much of the crowd to hear this spectacular instrument for the first time.
Another first was the band playing Little Joanna, from third album Motion In The Ocean, live for the first time ever – this is a summery ditty that encapsulates some of what McFly does best.
Next was the biggest surprise of the night: after a VT chronicling Busted’s role in the formation of McFly, the opening riff of the former’s song Year 3000 rang out in the dark, before the lights came up and revealed James Bourne and Matt Willis joining McFly onstage. The whole crowd went crazy, as all except the very youngest fans easily remember Busted for their cheeky pop tunes and personalities. A second Busted tune came in the form of Air Hostess, before the supergroup McBusted played one of McFly’s most recent singles, Shine A Light. Seeing Tom, James, Danny, Matt and Dougie all in a row and rocking out was something special, especially as, surprisingly, this collaboration had never happened before.
Tom also wowed with McFly: The Musical, a song he wrote in a stage musical style chronicling the past ten years and their friendships in a jokey but sentimental way. The big screens were once again used effectively here, as they showed a close up of Tom playing piano throughout, with interjections of pictures that coincided with the lyrics. The moment when the rest of the band kicked in for the last section was musically perfect, and made the song feel even more genuine.
Danny soon treated us to some Italian opera style singing before launching into his emotional Walk In The Sun and then being joined by Tom for the equally intimate Not Alone, complete with harmonica.
We also finally heard a new song from their upcoming album (which we still need more details about please!) called Love Is On The Radio. A song which sounds equal parts reminiscent of old material and newer, completely different influences, it featured fiddle throughout plus Danny on the harmonica and a chorus that began to feel familiar after just its second go through.
Amongst all this, there was plenty of time for sing-alongs of the more standard McFly songs, including Love Is Easy, Five Colours In Her Hair and All About You, before finishing with The Heart Never Lies (presumably because of the way the band can direct love at the fans through the lyrics). Singing and gesturing along to some of these songs that many of us have grown up with was almost overwhelming in the Royal Albert Hall’s magnificent and historic setting.
Overall, this was easily one of McFly’s best gigs ever (and that’s saying something). Every song brought something different to the table, whether in reminiscing about how it all began, getting the crowd going, or moving the band forward to maintain momentum for the future. All I can say is here’s to ten more years!