Tuesday night was quite possibly the very last time I will ever see The Wanted perform as a full unit. As a rabid member of the TWFanmily, a staunch fangirl, and a music lover, this fact makes me sad.
Though I knew the end of the group was coming (“the end” is, after all, inevitable–in life and fandoms), I had been in denial since the announcement back in January. Over the last few months, the UK and Ireland had their concerts and time to say goodbye to The Wanted, while I sat back in my office chair and watched it unfold on my monitor from a safe distance. Being in the US, I felt removed from it. I could basically ignore it all, since I wasn’t personally witnessing “the end” yet. I could plug my ears with my fingers, close my eyes, and drown it out.
But Tuesday night, at the House of Blues in Anaheim, I had to face it: the end. The end of the five. The end of my boys together as one. The end of their potential and their promise. The end of my favorite group.
The tears flowed easily as I witnessed it live and in person: the sweet and sad goodbye to the fans.
It’s odd, the emotions that bubble up while you watch your favorite group say goodbye. At first, it’s typical fangirl reactions like “Oh my gawd! They’re in front of me!” Then it’s long-time fan reactions like, “Wow. I remember seeing them perform this three years ago!” Then it’s mama bear reactions, such as “I’m so proud of them! Look at all the people here to see THEM.” Then, the sadness starts breaking through the excitement: “Damn. This is it. The last time I hear them sing this song together.” Then, the anger: “Eff you, management! You ruined a great group! How could you destroy them?!”
All of this happened in my head, in a matter of seconds. By the end of the first verse of Gold Forever, their opening song, I was done. Emotionally drained. I spent the rest of the evening in a foggy haze of grief.
Each consecutive song was a stab to the heart, yet filled my soul with happiness and memories of great times. It hurt to hear some songs (especially their medley of songs off their first album) because I knew I’d never hear them again, but it also felt good, like seeing an old friend again. I fell right into place, singing all the words, like second nature. And I knew exactly when little idiosyncrasies and ad-libs would occur, as I’d seen during performances so many times before.
I was thrilled to be seeing the boys on stage again. It felt right, like that’s where they should be. They seemed happy and playful on stage. Their voices were the strongest I’ve heard from them in a while. They all looked professional (no one looked homeless, *cough* Jay *cough*) and they all had a glow about them. As if the stage is where they are their best and brightest. I was so happy for them, crying proud-mama tears.
And then my happiness turned to anger. I felt the rage build up inside me, and there was no one to convey it to around me. Red hot rage. Like I could scream at someone and shake them into acknowledging just how wrong this all was. The Wanted should not be going “on a break” yet!
Come on, we all know that “on a break” means “breaking up.” Let’s not mince words. Those boys were mishandled from the minute they were signed in America. Not releasing their stellar Battleground CD was the first mistake. Turning them into a fluff, dance music group was another. Releasing the awful Walks Like Rihanna was the nail in the coffin. (Sorry. It had to be said.)
They were never the “Bad Boys of Britain” as their clueless managers tried to pigeonhole them into being. They were smart, professional, talented, dedicated young men who wanted to explore their musical tastes and writing abilities, and not be stuck in a genre of mindless, senseless, throwaway music. But they listened to their managers and label, and were led astray.
Though, I’m glad they did have the guts not to release what would have been the first full-length CD after Battleground. That would have been a disaster, what with all the “guest artists” who would’ve supposedly been on it. And I’m sure it was probably even more dance-centric than Word of Mouth eventually ended up being.
The problem with Word of Mouth was that it took two years (!) to release. Casual fans had already moved on. And they didn’t have a good single to back up the release. The label really should have released Show Me Love (America) as a single. Just like they should have released Warzone off Battleground. Those were brilliant songs, written by the boys themselves.
Management screwed my boys over. Too many mistakes and wasted opportunities. I don’t care what “behind the scenes” things actually went on. I just know what I see, as a fan. The Wanted was wasted and ruined by Braun and company. So much potential for greatness, and it amounted to very little.
So, all this anger was inside me at the gig. It spilled over into tears that wouldn’t quit. I feel for these boys. They could have been so much bigger than they were. People call them a “one-hit wonder” and it makes me sad. They weren’t. They should have been more popular here. They should have headlined in arenas and stadiums. They should still be together.
At the House of Blues, the boys sang many of the hits off their first two CDs, including Lose My Mind, Heart Vacancy, Lightning, and Warzone. They performed Chasing the Sun from their American EP release. And of course they played almost every song from their current CD, including We Own the NIght, Walks Like Rihanna, and I Found You. Their voices were beautiful, they wowed us with guitar and keyboard skills, and they engaged the audience, as seasoned showmen do.
My anger subsided to acceptance once they announced their last songs. They sang All Time Low and Glad You Came, the first singles in the UK and US, respectively. That’s when it came full circle for me. From seeing them perform these for the first time in America, in October of 2011, to seeing them for the last time here. I felt honored to have witnessed their career.
I went away from this performance completely exhausted. It was magical, seeing The Wanted perform again. But it hurt more than anything to know that I may never see them again. It was a blast while it lasted. Not just this gig, but their career. I’m so blessed and honored that I got to see them perform so many times, I got to meet them so many times, and I got to enjoy being their fan. I will cherish every moment I had with them, and I’ll think back fondly on the last four years.
Thank you, boys, for giving me so many happy memories. I’ll always be a part of the TWFanmily.