Paramore at The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 15 June 2017
The disco inferno resurrection of Paramore sideswiped many long-time fans, but they needn’t have been worried ahead of the Nashville rockers’ inaugural performance on their European tour in The Olympia Theatre.
There was plenty for old and new fans alike to savour. If anything, Paramore managed to turn new fans to their old material and unsure old fans onto their new material with a cleverly paced set that ensured that neither set of fans was ever cut adrift.
Paramore are a septet onstage, but all eyes were on Hayley Williams and the impressive returning drummer Zac Farro, who marshalled the band with aplomb from behind the kit. Williams’ new pop venture has been compared to every female popstar currently on the Billboard top 200, from Carly Rae Jepsen to Selena Gomez. And they should all be worried, because Williams means business, she’s got the presence, the stagecraft and the moves, but most importantly she’s got the voice.
But Williams surely has loftier aspirations than that and comparisons to Debbie Harry and Stevie Nicks may be more appropriate. Opening with the tropical guitar riff led pop assault of Told You So from their new album ‘After Laughter’. Williams quickly proves that she has the stagecraft expected of the modern pop front person, bounding and dancing across the stage in a playful manner.
Moving straight into fan favourite That’s What You Get, the band dismisses any reservations about Paramore being able to genre-hop between new and old material. This is helped by the fact that Paramore are clearly as equally in love with the old material as they are the new and the response from the crowd is thoroughly phenomenal.
Brick by Boring Brick, completes a breathless and captivating opining salvo. Still into you fits perfectly into the new pop aesthetic of Paramore, perhaps indicating their new direction was preordained.
Inevitably, the astounding pace can’t last and the mid-set lull is shared by new track Caught in the middle and old track Turn it off which fail to have the same sort of impact as the opening chapters of the set. Twilight soundtrack single Decode re-energises the Olympia into a singalong. Not that this crowd needs much encouragement, they are ready to sing at the drop of a hat throughout – it’s rare to see this level of simpatico between stage and crowd.
Hate To See Your Heart Break sees Paramore perform an impressive redirect having already moved from pop to emo, they now tackle alt-country. And they more than did their hometown of Nashville proud with this impressive slow burning mid-tempo number – based on this, there’s a country career waiting for Hayley Williams in the future, if she ever wants it. And Williams’ impressive range is showcased further on an excellent cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere.
Rose Coloured Boy brings back the skipping rope pop vibe, with bubblegum guitar work, before Playing God returns the pace to the emphatic nature of the sets opening. Aint it Fun delivers Def Leppard-esque riffs with the crowd playing the part of the choir singing “Don’t go crying to your mama cause you’re on your own in the real world.” Think “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier”.
The set closes with some comedic crowd participation as Hayley Williams brings Jake (a member of the crowd) on stage to help her sing the last verse and chorus of Misery Business – this move will surely work out worse more than once on this tour.
An unexpected highlight came in the encore as Zac Farro joined Hayley Williams on vocals for a version of Scooby’s in the Back – a track by Farro’s other music project HalfNoise. A fun slice of psychedelia meets Madonna’s Austin Power’s track Beautiful Stranger. Paramore finished with an emphatic performance of comeback single Hard Times.
And there’s no better word to describe this performance than emphatic. It was an emphatic display by a band who’ve taken a big risk with a new sound and it’s paid off for them.