Review by Jack Arkell and Photos by Russ Tierney
With some brave call and response routines early on in their set, LostAlone make it clear that they have very quickly become accustomed to playing large venues. Their experience supporting the likes of My Chemical Romance in arenas comes in handy, and the Derbyshire trio look twice the band they did on that particular tour a year and a half ago.
Tonight they justify their selection as first support band with a compelling performance that features the likes of ‘Sin and Sinners’, ‘Creatures’ and new track ‘Hostages’, the latter of which is punctuated by some majestic Steven Battelle guitar work.
With a four year head start over LostAlone, it comes as a surprise that The Used seem less equipped to play in such a setting. The sound quality seems to have taken a dive since the first band left the stage, and despite an opening salvo of ‘Take It Away’ and ‘Bird and the Worm’, there is little connection with the crowd. The audience are clearly more interested in the band’s older material, hence the muted reaction to ‘Put Me Out’ from this year’s ‘Vulnerable’ record.
Still, there isn’t dramatic improvement for ‘Taste of Ink’ and ‘All That I’ve Got’, neither of which are done justice to tonight. When frontman Bert McCracken announces that the final song is the ‘greatest song ever written’ before the intro to Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is played, the crowd react generously for the first time. Their enthusiasm is quelled when ‘A Box Full of Sharp Objects’ emerges from the 90s grunge to close the set. It is frustrating to see a band like The Used play such a sub-par set, but the future UK headline tour that McCracken speaks of will likely bring a string of much better performances.
Playing the penultimate night of their world tour, Evanescence show little signs of fatigue as they tear into recent single ‘What You Want’, with older track ‘Going Under proving even more popular. It doesn’t take too long before Amy Lee’s piano is wheeled out, and Birmingham is treated to stripped back renditions of ‘Lithium’ and ‘Lost in Paradise’.
Performance wise, Evanescence are almost note perfect throughout. The only disappointment is the crowd. The NIA is nowhere near sold out, and the atmosphere suffers during some of the newer material. ‘Bring Me to Life’ and the closing ‘My Immortal’ see to this late on, with the audience noise levels peaking during these two favourites.
It may well have just been quiet appreciation for an excellent performance that meant every word wasn’t being sung back at the Arkansas band. Either way, there is no doubt that Evanescence can still pull off an extraordinary live show to this day, even after over a year on the road.
And you can see more shots from the show here: