Live Reviews

The Used – Live

Relentless Garage
5th August 2009

Gig-goers experienced one of the stickiest, sweatiest gigs of the summer last night at the newly re-opened Relentless Garage. The refurb has cleaned up the venue, but it’s a shame they didn’t include decent air-con in the overhaul – you can actually see the steam rising off the crowd as they leave at the end of the night…

Openers Young Guns hammer out a perfunctory set – but seem stuck in the last decade both musically and visibly. There’s nothing hugely memorable except an impressive amount of head banging, and the fact that front man Gustav Woods spends an inordinate amount of time talking and giving the crowd the hard sell on their the EP instead of just getting on with it. It’s unfortunate for them that their set is so instantly forgettable next to the nuclear energy of the headliners.

The Used take to the sauna/stage just after 9.30, and it’s clear from the off set that they’ve lost none of their raw energy over the years. The sound is broad and exciting; with the vocals surprisingly spot on despite McCracken’s 2007 throat surgery. They kick off the night with ‘Take it Away‘, with the irrepressible McCracken grinning, spinning, laughing and tearing up the stage. In between tracks he rambles happily about how this is the best London show he’s ever played and as ever spits and sprays water from his mouth over the baying crowds. If there’s an outbreak of swine flu in the Used fans we know who to blame… He’s bulked up a little from the skinny little punk of previous years, but still has the same insane energy that make The Used an exhilarating band to catch live. There’s still the same juvenile sense of humour – he introduces ‘I Caught Fire‘ as a song written about his bowel movements after a particularly strong curry, grinning like a naughty school boy. His enthusiasm and exuberance seem to fuel the crowd, and soon the whole venue is buzzing, woe betide anyone getting in the way of any of the kids in the front, there are crowd surfers throwing themselves around with legs and arms in every direction….

The set list bounces from album to album – ‘ Liar Liar‘ , ‘Hospital’ and the sublime ‘Buried Myself Alive‘ are crowd pleasers- and we’re treated to an acoustic glimpse of their new album (Artwork – released 31st Aug) with the track ‘Empty With You‘. A lengthy medley of The Taste of Ink and Bulimic is a highlight, with the words hollered back at the stage word perfect. By this point the condensation is sliding down the walls and people are stumbling from the pit looking like they’ve been swimming. ‘Box of Sharp Objects‘ brings the night to a steamy climax – with the band grinning as much as the crowd. Tonight The Used show that they’re still very much a force to be reckoned with, and unlike so many seemingly disposable trend bands, they’re in for the long haul. Catch them if you can when they play The Electric Ballroom on 23rd September, you won’t regret it.

Dee Massey