After some turbulence within the band that led to the departure of founding members Josh and Zac Farro, Paramore have picked themselves up and proved they can do anything with the release of their self-titled album this year and its subsequent world tour.
Unfortunately, due to needing food and managing to accidentally extend the walk from the car park, we missed the first support act, Eliza & The Bear. Here’s the song that made me look forward to seeing them live and, as my brother described, it sounds quite like a cross between Fell City Girl and Mumford & Sons.
Next up was Charli XCX, with an all-female band behind her – was this Hayley Williams’ influence here? With guitar, bass, drums, synth and extra electronic stuff going on, synthpop with a slight pop rock twist was the order of the set here, with Charli’s strong voice effortlessly powering over the top.
Although some of the songs began to blur together with their similar pace and structure of starting slower and gradually building up to a huge climax, there were a few excellent, stand-out songs. Single Nuclear Seasons had one of the catchiest choruses of the night and was the first to get the crowd going, set closer Super Love was a new song but was still immediately taken to and, most notably, Icona Pop’s I Love It, on which Charli was featured, was the most energetic and fun of the set.
Paramore themselves really emphasised their new, self-titled album, playing 11 songs from it; from the way Hayley spoke during the show, this was likely as much down to the band’s new, more positive attitude during the process of producing these songs as just because the tour was to promote it. Hayley was full of inspirational talk – as good frontmen and women often are – and this showed in the music as the band’s passion shone through, especially in emotion-filled songs such as Last Hope (“It’s just a spark, but it’s enough to keep me going.”)
The set opened strongly (as it would continue) with Grow Up, Fast In My Car and That’s What You Get, all strong, energetic songs with memorable riffs, before two definite crowd-pleasers from album Brand New Eyes, Decode and Ignorance.
We then got a very lovely surprise: Hayley and guitarist Taylor York stood alone on an otherwise darkened stage and sang the first of three interludes from the latest album: I’m Not Angry Anymore came first, before bassist Jeremy Davis joined the pair as the core Paramore trio for Holiday, and later the duo played Moving On as the penultimate song of the night. These little acoustic interludes worked excellently as a way to break the whole band down and offer a bite-sized piece of intimacy in an arena-sized venue, and all three were an absolute delight.
Elsewhere, the standard stage show experience was augmented with lights that synced brilliantly with phrases and choruses of songs, as well as examples of very well considered instrumentation. For example, Taylor augmented the hook of Now by pounding it on an extra pair of drums, Hayley had a keyboard brought out for Whe It Rains, and Jeremy had a gobsmackingly-good slap bass solo at the end of Ain’t It Fun.
One of the most touching moments of all was during The Only Exception, a beautiful ballad full of hope, when the majority of the audience got their phone lights going and sang along to the simple but effective chorus together; even Hayley looked overwhelmed.
Both the false and real endings were also extremely memorable; Misery Business is amazing live in itself, let alone with an excitable fan dragged onstage who Hayley forces to run around and sing with her, whilst Still Into You was just a crowd favourite to finish with.
As a whole, Paramore as a six-member touring band were very, very tight live; there was never anything out of place, and everything gelled together perfectly whilst still sounding raw and live. There is little else you can ask from a rock or pop punk band live, and Hayley’s endearing talk just made the whole night an altogether fantastic gig.