ARTIST: THE USED | VENUE: O2 ACADEMY, LEEDS
SUPPORT: THE NEW REGIME
When it comes to wanting to make our inner teenage selves go absolutely mental, only one band is really going to make that possible. As we clad ourselves in black and head to leads on the nostalgic pilgramige that is tonight’s show, The Used have promised us to not only deliver a live show perfected over a career lasting almost two decades, but with the oppurtunity to bare witness to the live performance of one of the most important records of all time in it’s entirety. Anyone in tonight’s crowd will agree that ‘In Love and Death’ is a record that has shaped their earlier musical years.
From the various musicians spotted in the crowd, through to the now young parents and older siblings bringing the next generation of fans to the show, tonight we will all come together in one of the most inspiring and monumental acts of musical unison. However if you want a buzz kill, then you need to watch THE NEW REGIME (2), a band that if it were not fronted by past Paramore and Nine Inch Nails drummer, Illan Ruben, they most certainly wouldn’t be opening tonight. As his afro bounces across the stage with as much enthusiasm as a middle aged man doing the gardening, the mind numbingly long solos are just bragging rights. Bragging rights for how sometimes in this industry, who you know is more important than what you know. Maybe if they come back with some actual song structure, we won’t find ourselves standing in awkward silence making small talk with the people around us. This is truly an opener not to remember.
Anyway moving on. With an atmosphere as static as a football match, tonight the Leeds academy is sonically transformed into a stadium. With a mass backdrop of a blood red heart, the all too familiar artwork of In Love and Death, (one which is heavily tattooed onto the skin of those around us like a cult marking), hangs like a glorified monument. It’s finally time for THE USED (9) to take us straight back to year 2004.
Opening with ‘Take It Away’, our inner rage reaches an all time high, and as Bert McCracken leads us through their set with as much enthusiasm, energy, weirdness, and leadership as ever, pits opens and ripple across the mass crowd. Emo anthems, ‘I Caught Fire’, and ‘All That I’ve Got’ are performed at an almost encore worthy rate, and soon enough we‘re having to take breathers to sing along to these mega choruses. Whilst records being played in full can get tedious at times, it’s the rarities that really make tonight’s show special.
The emotional heart tugging, yet hip grooving ‘Cut Up Angels’, is opened with Bert’s story of the divine comedy. A story in which he wished his ex girlfriend dead, and when it happened was greeted by this divine line of irony, humour, and darkness. These are all emotions that we experience tonight, and as we man up and try and pull back the tears for the jerker that is ‘Yesterday’s Feelings’, our excuse to cry comes in the shape of two fans proposing to one another on the stage. ‘Welcome to hell!’, shrieks Bert, before slamming down into ‘Light With A Sharpened Edge’, an emo anthem like no other
. Once more we find ourselves going through an emotional rollercoaster ride, and as the silence for ‘Hard To Say’ surrounds us, we can’t help but sway along. A song that to so many people tonight conveys so many different moments and memories, all of which find us putting our arms around one another. Between dedications to Bowie (Bert also mentions his late pet dog with the same name…), and to the days now lost to the pass, tonight isn’t one that’s meant to be sad. Rather a night to celebrate why we all love music so much.
The estranged spoken word of ‘I’m A Fake’ is screamed at an almost fever level by the crowd, and like a mass cult we’re soon plunged into the very depths of a live show that is completely swallowing up everyone around us. Ending on a more recent track, its the party anthem ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward’ that has us reliving every rock club night, and as we leave the venue breathless (literally) and in a daze, we can all say that tonight we not only witnessed one of the best live performances by the used, but also bared witness to one of the greatest moments in rock history.