Paramore: Tour One Review
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Thursday 22 June 2017
I’ve waited eight years to see Paramore again. Eight years. A lot has happened in that time – I’ve graduated from not one, but two universities, moved to a different city, got a full-time job and bought a flat, to name but a few. A lot has changed for Paramore since 2009, too. From both Josh and Jeremy leaving the band, to Zac returning, it has been a bumpy road and I wasn’t sure I would ever get the chance to see them again. But, in true Paramore fashion, they have risen from the ashes stronger than ever.
They returned with a new 80s-inspired synth sound in the form of After Laughter, their fourth studio album. Debut single “Hard Times” epitomised their rejuvenation with startlingly contrasting lyrics to the upbeat sound. Under this disguise, After Laughter is the darkest album Paramore has ever released. It’s deeply personal and upfront about the struggles many of us face with mental illness with lyrics that are as relatable as they are painful. But, there is a comfort to be sought in the unity of hardship; that no matter how alone you may feel, you aren’t.
Paramore christened this tour as Tour One, heralding in a new age for the band. They purposely chose more intimate venues than their usual haunts, which meant their only Scottish date was in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh – coincidentally, the place where I graduated from Napier University. Unsurprisingly, it was extremely difficult to get a ticket and I just managed to get a solitary seat in the uppermost circle of the theatre. I’m not a fan of sitting down at gigs, I prefer to be getting involved in the standing area, but I couldn’t face not seeing them at all. You’ll understand my frustration when I tell you there were plenty of free seats in the tier below me in the supposedly ‘sold out’ venue…
Support was provided by Bleached, a spritely American four-piece comprised of three girls and one guy. I’ll admit I’ve become one of those people who tends not to show up for the support band anymore, unless I know (and like!) them. But, seen as I was on my own and in town early enough, I decided to head along. While I enjoyed their brief set, I wouldn’t seek them out to listen to again.
Paramore took to the stage a little after 9pm and I mean, they literally just walked out on stage; no dimming of the lights, no hyped pause. From that moment, it felt like I was here to see a different band. Still the Paramore I know and love, but one that has given up on theatrics and just wants to be one with the crowd. Hayley spoke a lot about how we are all family throughout the gig and how coming together via music gives her hope, which we need nowadays.
The set was a wonderful balance of old and new songs, kicking off with “Told You So” before launching into “That’s What You Get”. The best part was how cohesive the set sounded, despite the changes Paramore has undergone over the years. Hayley herself joked of the teen angst prevalent in their older songs, but they didn’t sound a bit out of place. I was thrilled to hear “Decode” again – Hayley’s voice never fails to amaze me – and “I Caught Myself” live for the first time. I won’t lie, I got slightly annoyed at the woman in front of me who insisted on recording every single song, but had ‘never heard of’ half of them. She was also moaning about the people standing in front of her, having a good time, because they were blocking her camera. How about you stand up and join in, then?
I didn’t get to see Paramore during their last album cycle, which meant I’ve never heard any of the songs from it live. So, I got pretty emotional during “Hate to See Your Heart Break”, which reminds me losing my horse Star in 2013. On the other hand, I finally got to experience “Ain’t It Fun” in person and it was wonderful; by far, one of the best songs Paramore has ever produced. Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the night was an unexpected cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere” – I’m pretty sure Hayley could sing anything.
As per tradition, Hayley brought up a member of the crowd to sing the bridge of “Misery Business”, but she had a surprise up her sleeve. Lauren Mayberry, the lead singer of CHVRCHES, was backstage and came out to sing along too! It was a special moment you wouldn’t have gotten anywhere but in Scotland. Another treat was when Zac left the drums to take centre stage for a rendition of his band’s song “Scooby’s in the Back”. The stage turned into a multi-coloured spectacle, as everyone donned sunglasses and busted their best moves.
The night could only end one way, with an electric rendition of “Hard Times”. Singing every word, the crowd proved that they have embraced this newly energised Paramore. Whether you’ve been a fan since All We Know Is Falling or have just discovered After Laughter, Hayley said it perfectly – welcome to the family.