After rescheduling their UK tour earlier this year, The Used finally arrived in Bristol this week along with support act LOWLIVES from Los Angeles. As a first time The Used-goer, the O2 Academy seems like a small venue for what could be considered one of the biggest bands of my childhood, and while LOWLIVES put on an amazing set, the possibility of the crowd barely growing dawned upon me as each glance around looked as empty as the first. With O2 priority situated on the front row, I took my place in the second ready to hold my spot until my childhood heroes took the stage. LOWLIVES have been on my radar before, but with only two songs available on Spotify, their set was filled to the brim with material. With little chatter and a grunge-esque vibe, it’s easy to see LOWLIVES filling up a room of similar size and having a pretty energetic show. It’s fair to say that they made a good few fans that night, including myself and the company around me, so let’s hope they return for a headlining tour themselves.
Kicking off the set with ‘Take It Away’ the crowd instantly gets in high spirits, with a pit opening up in the middle and a lot of energetic bodies ready to get their party on. The expectations of The Used pushing their most recent album, The Canyon were diminished that night. It had only been a year or so prior that the band played In Love and Death in full in London, but their Bristol appearance was full of old songs that really pumped up the room and rekindling a lot of love and angst from our teenage years. It didn’t take long for me to be willing to give up my absolutely adoring spot in the second row to throw myself in the pits, and I’m not sure if it was the band or our generation of punk rockers, but it was fun. There was no blind pushing and shoving, but everyone got involved and no one got touchy. There was only a lot of love and compassion in that crowd, which only added to the sense of euphoria. Well done, Bristol. You’ve made it to one of our top places for live alternative music!
At this point, it’s only positive words I can truly award The Used for their time in Bristol. Playing hit after hit from albums such as In Love and Death, Imaginary Enemy, Artwork and Lies For The Liars it was a genuine surprise that the crowd kept up the energy throughout the entire set list. Offering a sense of intimacy during ‘Empty With You’ and ‘On My Own’ only offered the briefest of breathers. Voices were definitely lost as the crowd sung out their hearts reaching out to Bert with his interactive gestures. Perhaps the lead singer knew that he would be pushing the crowd to their full limits, adding Shakespearian soliloquy’s during intermissions. During ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward’ you could feel the exhaustion but sheer determination of the crowd seeing the night through with the same energy they started with. I can’t talk for anyone else, but with shaky legs and a heart rate above 140bpm, my lungs gasped for fresh air – only for the band to return on stage for their encore.
A medley of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and their ‘A Box Full Of Sharp Objects’ absolutely kicked off. It was like starting the evening all over again, with a bigger pit and louder voices. I’m sure there were a few tears, too. Luckily enough, our very own cameraman Owen Jeffreys managed to catch the whole phenomenal experience of their encore, which you can watch below:
All in all, if we rated things out of 10, The Used’s live show would be at 100. Their presence and the way it rubs off on the crowd is prodigious. Many hugs were shared between strangers, and there was a sense of unity that is ultimately becoming more rare. If you get a chance to catch The Used along with LOWLIVES on the remainder of their UK tour, please do! It’s an unforgettable experience, and a show that you’ll be promising yourself to relive the next time they return to our sunny UK shores.
If you went to the Bristol show, let us know what you think!