Busted, Hammersmith Apollo, London

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The Independent Culture

Teenage kicks are hard to resist. By the look of tonight's eager punters, the pogoing pop-punkers Busted are something to savour, even though it's a school night.

Busted are phenomenally successful: their self-titled debut album has gone double platinum. After their first two singles reached No 3 and No 2, the latest, "You Said No", zipped in at No 1. Manufactured for tweenie markets? It's easy to see how that judgement is made. Avril Lavigne has the apprentice-riot-grrrl demographic, while Busted have Charlie Simpson, a tie-wearing bit of posh with spiky blond tufts; the shark-fin-coiffed indie kid James Bourne; and the bleach-blond rascal Matt Jay. Tonight's show is for the youngsters; parents furtively cluster near ashtrays as the mini-kilted bunnies (a number of fans really are wearing bright-pink rabbit ears) scamper to their seats. The atmosphere is a hybrid of candy-hued Gang Show, frenzied adoration and spangly birthday bash.

Eardrums are battered by high-pitched wails. Busted leap on, getting stuck into "You Said No", which articulates the shrivelling humiliation of being rejected by someone special. Banners are shaken; nippers clamber on to seats in seconds. "Hi!" says Jay. "Just one question: are you up for a party?" When the screeching dies down, he grins and thanks us for making them No 1, then launches into "All the Way" and "Britney".

The audience lap it up - for some, it's their first gig with a proper band. Next, it's time for the ballad: "Without You". The heart-throb Simpson croons centre stage, loosening his tie and pressing flesh in the front row, slyly slating previous tour dates - "Not naming names... Sheffield." Everyone sings for a guest slot on the band's next single, "Sleeping with the Lights on". It's high-calibre pantomime; even stern dads join in. And there's history on the curriculum: a beefed-up, arm-waving cover of Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl".

Busted clearly enjoy singing live, jumping about and giving their all. The audience are emboldened. Tentatively punching the air, one young fan makes a Satan's-horns gesture; there's no moshpit, but many are having their first thrash. Bourne steps up for "Psycho Girl", an ode to partners who don't appreciate efforts in a relationship: only cold-hearted beings don't understand.

Busted enforce a compulsory body-popping Mexican wave. It'd be rude not to join in - after all, there are far worse ways of spending an evening. Then, they sing their time-travelling forecast "Year 3000", with an impromptu robotic boogie to "Billie Jean" mid-track. "Wow," gasps a girl behind me. "Busted like Justin Timberlake!"

The encore is a full-throttle "What I Go to School for" - why, to ogle cute teachers, of course. A rollicking, clean, fun night for all the family.

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