LIVE: The Used / Landscapes / Decade @ KOKO, London

By Penny Bennett

Ever since their appearance at Download Festival last summer, Utah alternative veterans The Used have been pleasantly surprising crowds with their cobweb free performances. Despite widely reported claims of a mid-career slump, the four-piece have discarded the shackles and proved themselves to be back on form. Their resurgence has led them to the beautiful and iconic KOKO in North London.

Decade are first up, encouraging their usual enthused reaction by the crowd. Launching into ‘Brainfreeze’ their energy remains throughout the short opening set. For some, it perhaps lacks the recognisability of the headliners anthems, but judging by the crowd’s reaction, it won’t be long before Decade have their own showstoppers.

Asking the crowd whether they have heard of them is a risky move, and the response to Landscapes’ inquiry is minimal at best. This is reflected throughout the band’s performance as the crowd just aren’t with them. Their Architects and The Ghost Inside style metal infused punk sees their vocalist delve into the crowd mid-set, met by an awkward looking circle of confused onlookers. The energy is great, but tonight it doesn’t quite sit right.

On the other hand, The Used have the crowd rallying behind them. The atmosphere in the sold out KOKO is electric as tracks such as the anthemic ‘The Taste of Ink’ brings voices to a roaring crescendo. Tracks from the new album call for fists in the air, and pits open at a moment’s notice. The crowd hangs on every word uttered by vocalist Bert McCracken between songs, as he bonds by calling a girl onto the stage so she can film ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward’ on her phone.

Their new material holds its own against old favourites, including a particularly mesmerising encore rendition of ‘On My Own’, performed from one of the venue’s boxes. Declaring in his typical way that that he wanted to finish everyone off as if they were close to orgasm, McCraken closes the show in fitting style with ‘A Box Full Of Sharp Objects’. Not quite orgasm inducing, but a damn good evening nonetheless.