Live @ Bristol Colston Hall
June 21, 2017
Review & Photography: Steve Bateman

With the dissolution of numerous line-ups and several sacrificed friendships - since they first formed in 2004 - Paramore's storied career to date has been a well-documented emotional roller-coaster, with the band having transformed once again and re-emerged as lead vocalist Hayley Williams, guitarist Taylor York and drummer Zac Farro.

Of the group's origins, AllMusic reveals: "Although their blend of emo-pop and slick, anthemic rock & roll eventually made them stars on both sides of the Atlantic, Paramore began humbly enough in Franklin, Tennessee, where Hayley Williams met brothers Josh and Zac Farro after moving to town from Mississippi. Already a powerhouse vocalist at the age of 13, Williams joined a band that the Farro siblings had formed with local guitarist Taylor York. She left the group soon after, signing with Atlantic Records as a solo artist instead, but clashed with the label over the direction of her music. Seeking to front her own band, Williams convinced Atlantic to let her piece together a full line-up. Josh and Zac Farro were recruited for the job, as were guitarist Jason Bynum and bassist Jeremy Davis." The group's moniker is taken from the maiden name of the Mother of one of their first bass players - but once they had learned the meaning of the homophone 'Paramour' (a secret lover), they decided to adopt the name using the Paramore spelling.

Thematically, Hayley's troubled thoughts, anxiety and depression, plus personal struggles with fame have informed many of her honest and vulnerable lyrics - which are now set to music that has evolved into a fully-committed, fizzy, infectious and colourful synth-pop direction. Speaking to DIY about how it feels to be five albums deep and over ten years into their career, Hayley pondered: "It's weird, I still feel like we’re really green, especially with this record. It felt like there were so many new things to try and so many new feelings about life - you’re finally all the way over the hump of being able to deny that you’re an adult now. Yeah, this was a crazy record to make."

Currently touring the globe to promote their melodic, rhythmic and pristine sounding fifth long player, After Laughter, tonight, the stage is set for Paramore to rock Bristol Colston Hall to its very foundations (a more intimate-sized venue for them while on the comeback trail, after years of playing arenas). As anticipation and excitement builds, the UK is currently basking in its hottest June day in 41-years, with a temperature of 34.5C (94F) and the venue is absolutely sweltering! But, as the band step out in front of the crowd's jubilant cheers and screams, whoops and hollers, holding their thumbs aloft in-unison while facing each other after taking their positions - most likely a good luck ritual - when Hayley turns around she is all smiles. A model-esque and charismatic frontwoman, Williams was once famed for her creative hairstyles / neon-dyed locks, although began to sense that she was "beholden to a visual shtick" and so decided to change her hair colour to blonde, in order to start this era with "a blank slate."

With a superlative opening volley of glistening gems in the shape of Told You So, That's What You Get and Brick By Boring Brick - replete with dazzling light displays. Next we hear the bouncy, shiny and endorphins-releasing, Still Into You, which features the uplifting loveblind lyric: "I should be over all the butterflies / But I'm into you" and it really causes a stir (as well as butterflies I'm sure) amongst devotees in attendance! Standing at just over 5ft and aged 28, the disarming Hayley is a total star and a passionate, incandescent ball of energy, commanding your attention the entire time that she's onstage, with a combination of her distinctive voice and with whatever she is doing or wherever she is moving! Such interaction and synergy, also means that band and audience (a mix of all ages) rapidly come together as one.

Things are slowed down with the tropical Caught In The Middle, with an inviting set list that continues to liberally dip into Paramore's long players, as well as miscellaneous material. Some of the standout tunes include, Decode, a glorious number which brought the group massive international recognition and superstardom, propelling them into rock's premier league after it was used on the best-selling soundtrack for 2008's stratospherically popular movie, Twilight. Its epic chorus of: "How did we get here? / When I used to know you so well / How did we get here? / Well, I think I know how" sounds immense as it surges through the sold out concert hall! This is followed by a spine-tingling rendition of the lush, meaningful and bewitching ballad, Hate To See Your Heart Break, which has Hayley pining: "I hate to see your heart break / I hate to see your eyes get darker as they close / But I've been there before."

There's even a blissful cover version of Fleetwood Mac's timeless Everywhere, and, a fun-packed Rose-Colored Boy, complete with its peachy "Low-key / No pressure / Just hang with me and my weather" cheerleading-style chants. Interestingly, many of Paramore's uptempo tracks such as this one, could be described as sugar-coated pills. As taken at face value, the sonics can sometimes disguise the true sadness or deep-seated frustration and pain, contained within the relatable messages behind the songs - which all have a great amount of depth. The first part of the set concludes with a pair of undeniable crowd favourites, Ain't It Fun and Misery Business. The latter of which, has now become renowned for the moment where Hayley picks a lucky fan out of the audience who she has been "eyeing-up" at the gig, to join Paramore onstage to sing the end of this track with them. But this evening, there's an added bonus, as Taylor also selects another lucky fan to play his guitar at the same time!

As you can imagine, the fans chosen - who also get hugs from their idols - are over the moon and with much audible encouragement from spectators, do a sterling job! This act of genuine warmth, affection and kindness, just goes to show how 'real' the band are and how much they care about / value the importance of their fanbase, never forgetting their roots. Something which Hayley frequently references in her lengthy and heartfelt talks to the crowd, which are peppered throughout the night. For example, at one point, we're told how this 2017 'Tour One' is extremely important to Paramore and although Hayley empathises with those who struggled to get tickets. It has enabled them "to be much closer to their fans" and how when they were on the rise 10-years ago, they remember playing Bristol Academy over the road - even recognising some faces in the audience who were at that very show, which makes Hayley feel like "we're all growing up together." This is an all-out lovefest and to put Paramore's popularity worldwide into perspective, they have over an astounding 26 million Facebook likes and 4.5 million Twitter followers. Those are some seriously impressive numbers!

Obviously not content to have a cookie-cutter sound, the group's musicianship / interplay (including touring members) throughout the set has been top-notch! Faithfully recreating the songs' rich / layered textures and for the encore, the crowd - who have been in fine voice all evening and "sound like a choir" according to Hayley - are treated to a trio of further different sounding tracks, Forgiveness, Scooby's In The Back (HalfNoise cover with Farro on lead vocals) and lastly, After Laughter's lead single, Hard Times. Already an instant Paramore classic, both its chorus and the trippy middle 8: "Tell my friends I'm coming down / We'll kick it when I hit the ground..." are just some of the magical parts in this song, which results in a total knockout finale, with lots of people joyously dancing and jumping around. Waving goodbye to Bristol, Hayley, Taylor and Zac walk off stage to exalted applause, following a gig that was engrossing and enjoyable in every way!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, when taking all of Paramore's past turmoil, hardship and challenges into consideration, Hayley recently openly admitted to The Guardian: "I asked Taylor if we could start a new band, I was so sick of this crap. I said we should just try something new, give it a new name." With her chief-songwriting partner, York, enthusiastically agreeing: "I’ve wanted to quit this band so many times, going through all this conflict and drama over the years... I was just like: ‘Man, I feel like we can keep going, but this is not worth it if we don’t want to be here'."

An NPR music writer even perceptively noted: "Being forced to constantly re-evaluate what Paramore looks like has made them largely indestructible: When it feels like they've got nothing to lose, they shed their skin and become new. In 2017, Paramore is a pop band, far removed from the emo days that created them. They are a pop band that survives and thrives, and it's been a journey to get here." Thankfully, for their legion of loyal fans, Paramore faced their issues head on and never gave up, in turn, opening a brand new and exciting chapter.

A very special thanks to James Wallace @ Pomona PR, for all of his time and help.

Bristol Set List
Told You So
That's What You Get
Brick By Boring Brick
Still Into You
Caught In The Middle
Turn It Off
I Caught Myself
Hate To See Your Heart Break
Fake Happy
Rose-Colored Boy
Playing God
Ain't It Fun
Misery Business
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Scooby's In The Back
Hard Times

"Some things just make sense"