Not many bands have strived or even simply survived that were part of the big emo boom in the mid to late 00s whilst also sticking to their guns regardless, but Utah’s own The Used are one of them.
Now about 18 years into their career as a band, the four-piece have faced many tribulations and set backs – both big and small – including more recently having to file and exercise a restraining order against now ex-guitarist Justin Shekoski, and having to cancel and push back their current UK tour (originally scheduled for February) due to a family emergency.
Yet, they’re back in the UK once more, and with them in tow they’ve also brought along fresh-faced quartet Lowlives , who were also set to be slotted as their support act back in February too.
A supergroup of sorts (composed of members from The Defiled, The Ataris, and No Devotion), the band themselves may be new, but they’ve got plenty of experience behind them. Their grunge tinged punk rock cuts like ‘Burn Forever’ hit hard, and it’s hard to not get involved with the call-to-arms snarls of ‘I Don’t Like You’.
Having not long performed at Reading & Leeds Festival, The Used  take to the stage to an almost packed out O2 Ritz, and as the words “Life’s greatest questions have always been…” ring out from the speakers, the crowd already know what’s about to come next. The band explode into ‘Take It Away’ and, though Bert McCracken‘s voice is a bit wobbly and warming up to begin with, everything gets fluid again by the time we reach the second chorus.
From here on out, it’s a set crafted for the fans as The Used bring out hit after hit from across their discography. That is, at least, except for latest full-length ‘The Canyon’. The band don’t include one song from that record in the set, which is odd considering that’s the release the tour is in promotion of, and also that it’s not even a year old yet.
Another slight bugbear is McCracken‘s insistence to include (and sometimes just murmur) Shakespeare soliloquies as a precursor for several songs throughout the night. It’s kind of hard to see what the intention is here, or the expected vibe he’s expecting for this to give off. It just seems like he’s saying them for the sake of saying them, so after a couple of times it just gets a little… awkward and unnecessary.
Regardless, it’s easy to forget these little speed bumps when classic cuts like the punk chugging ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward’, the metal tinge riff-fest ‘Blood On My Hands’ and the emo anthem of a generation that is ‘The Taste Of Ink’ come straight after.
The band shake things up a little bit with encore closer ‘A Box Full Of Sharp Objects’, which they meld with parts of Nirvana‘s magnum opus ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, which of course is a bugaboo of a song to cover, but there’s a tongue-in-cheek nature to it, and it just reinforces what tonight is about: fun and celebration.
You can check out our full photo gallery from the show here.