[REVIEW] The Used LIVE @ O2 Academy Bristol, 27/08/2018 (LIVE VIDEO AND PICTURES)

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!

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One Eighty Two Tribute @ The Globe, Cardiff 09/02/18

img_0761.jpgThe queue is excited. Smiling faces across a wide range of people, all from different walks of life; people at different points in their lives waiting for the doors to open to dive bar and venue, The Globe. Excitement is a flurry, and the floor fills up pretty quick – and those at the age to drink are well and truly getting themselves started. The stage, illuminated by a huge custom-made Blink 182 flag, an epic show of dedication to what they’re representing with a black and white striped background, and the dripping smiley standing out in a fuschia pink – what’s that, a missing eye?

The tribute-trio look the part for most of it, with Fake Tom presented in To The Stars… merch rocking a Gibson ES-335 that’s probably the biggest piece of eye-candy on the stage, Fake Hoppus representing Hi My Name Is Mark and of course, equipped with a trusty Fender Strat bass, and well, Poundland Travis wearing a Saltrock tee but definitely well on his way with his arms covered in multiple eye-catching tattoos. The trio looks the part, equipment covered in Blink stickers and 182 spraypaints. The chords for ‘Feeling This’ kick in, and with a little help from the two pints, the flag with a missing eye becomes the flag you’ve been waiting to be stood in front of. The crowd is in full swing and ready for a night filled with the anthems of their teenage years, and what makes it even more incredible is the Mark, Tom and Travis Show-esque banter of sex and swear words the trio have become fluent in reminds us of the old-school Blink 182 when it was the original trio.

One thing to note is that Blink 182 find it difficult to sound like recorded Blink 182 live, but much like the real thing, the tribute-trio delivers the music with the same energy that causes a buzz of brilliant atmosphere with a merry crowd hungry for the music. ‘M+M’s’ is the perfect example, with the lyrics “there’s only so many ways I can make love to my hand” being the loudest to be sung back. And there are two ways to look at it, a) the band is doing brilliantly and people are well and truly into it or b) the crowd have some unaddressed issues lying around. While both are 100% possible, it’s exhibit A that’s the reason. Fake Travis is keeping up with 16-note beats, Fake Hoppus is showing off his energy and exploring the stage and Fake DeLonge has starry-eyes with every chord he’s pulling off. With red cheeks and sweat streaks on full display with the lights illuminating over the stage, the tribute-trio have already successfully delivered what they meant to – a night of Blink 182 anthems and a party-like atmosphere.

There’s a plethora of songs that bring the audience second-wind (or third.. or fourth) such as ‘What’s My Age Again?’ There’s almost an epic sound boost, and it’s hard to tell whether it’s intentional or the audience suddenly got louder but it’s received well. There are people from all age-groups here tonight, and I think they all definitely felt the nostalgia of their teenage years coming out. ‘I Miss You’ brings out the wailing of all the women from the room (including myself), and ‘First Date’ – which not only sounds amazing by the tribute-trio – but gets the whole floor up on their feet and jumping along with the heavy bass. One of the best songs though is ‘Stay Together For The Kids,’ and while everyone remembers all those times that they listened to that song during the worst of times in their younger years, it’s the song that Fake DeLonge really comes into his own as a musician. For a brief moment, he drops the Californian-DeLonge accent that he’s carried through each track up to this point and really shines. There’s a lot of passion there, and it’s obvious in the way he delivers the song as his own person than the parody he’s putting on.

There’s a lot of praise to be given to the tribute-trio, especially during tough-track ‘Carousel’ which is pulled off well and practically spot on. The trio definitely has a lot of love for what they do, and clearly put a lot of effort into their rehearsals and practices to have reached the level of skill they have to play Blink tracks they way they do. Covering practically the whole discography of the original Blink 182 – ‘Anthem Part Two,’ ‘Always’ (which of course went down a treat with the crowd) and ‘Going Away To College’ – the trio saves ‘Dammit’ for last with a little treat. A brief pop-punk version of TLC’s ‘No Scrubs,’ ending the set on such a high that gears the audience up for Green Haze. (Do I need to say who they’re a tribute for?)

One Eighty Two is delivering the tracks, banter and atmosphere that old-school Blink had, giving the audience and their fans a taste of what used to be and what we can still enjoy, even if they have different accents and different faces. Follow them on Instagram and keep up to date with the pop disaster shows where they’re heading to Frome, Chesterfield, Bridgend, Swindon and more.

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