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LIVE REVIEW: Paramore Takes Our Breath Away at Brisbane Entertainment Centre


Photography by Zachary Gray

It’s the tour everyone’s been talking about. It’s one of the most celebrated and beloved bands of the last 20 years. It’s goddamn Paramore.

It was with much anticipation that we headed to the second show of the Brisbane leg of Paramore’s Australia and New Zealand tour. It’s been five years since Paramore last played in the country, and early this year we were treated to the release of This is Why, their incredible and highly acclaimed sixth studio album. To say we were excited is a total understatement.

 

American indie pop artist Remi Wolf is joining Paramore this tour, and opened up the night with a set filled with funk-infused grooves.


Remi Wolf is incredibly camp and fun- dressed in camo and on a stage adorned with inflatable Christmas decorations she makes her entrance to the iconic sound of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’.

The first song is ‘Liquor Store’. It’s eclectic, and a lot of fun. Remi sings ‘you motherfucker!’ and the lights flash through the crowd, illuminating the audience dancing along, and getting warmed up. She then moves into ‘wyd’ which has some fantastic guitar riffs that contrast nicely with her hip-hop infused verses.

Remi Wolf then introduces herself and her job- as the opener, she says, she’s in charge of making sure everyone gets nice and loose before Paramore hit the stage. After instructing us through some vocal exercises and warm-ups she introduces ‘Michael’, an explosive song with jaw-dropping vocals. The mood gets a bit slower and sexier for the next song ‘Sexy Villain’, with a tantalising mix of drawn-out lines and faster rap moments.

The next song is a super sexy ballad called ‘Liz’ and Remi’s powerful and slightly husky voice is what shines throughout this one- though the talent of her band can not be understated either- as she twirls around the stage.


She covers ‘Pink + White’ by Frank Ocean and dedicates a song called ‘Shawty’ to the under 5’2” crowd, before launching into a brand new song called ‘Soup’ that has only been played on this tour so far.

Remi Wolf’s music is lusciously layered and mostly light-hearted- for the majority of the set, she doesn’t take herself too seriously as she dances around, samples, and breathes new life into songs. It’s a feast for the senses- bright bubble writing and rainbow lights, deliciously contrasting powerful solo notes, crisp guitar riffs, and rap verses. When she does switch to a more serious tone, as is the case with ‘Soup’ however, her versatility as a performer is evident- she changes the tone seamlessly and drifts into some gorgeous emotional moments.

Her last two songs for the night are ‘Disco Man’ and ‘Photo ID’. 'Photo ID' has some of my favourite guitar lines, and they really shine in the live performance, their punchy sound taking a more prominent role in the song. A slow zoom-in on the inflatable cow fills the display screens as the band walks off the stage and Remi Wolf’s set ends.

 

Stage now clear of inflatable animals, the background music dims and the crowd yells in excitement: a flickering, glowing white light appears on the back screen as Hayley Williams' disembodied voice talks of contrasting ideas- (vengeance and forgiveness, hope and dystopia…) nodding to the themes of personal and societal conflict and ruminations on the idea of personal responsibility that are so prominent on their newest album. Paramore takes to the stage and launches into ‘You First’ and ’The News’.

Hayley is a striking figure all in black as she sings and the crowd is entranced. Complementary visuals play behind the band as they perform like this is the last time they ever will. We’ve only just gotten started, yet every song they play feels like it could be the grand finale- confetti and sparkling gold fireworks are already a feature, and Paramore’s playing is simply out-of-this-world good.



We dive into their back catalogue for the next couple of songs- a nod to their fans who have been there for years- with Hayley thanking those who are here for the second night in a row and encouraging the audience to have a great time, let it all out, and dance along.

A change in lighting and the stage is now bathed in blue and greens and pinks as we move into the After Laughter era for a couple of songs with a punchy, feel-good rendition of ‘Caught in the Middle’- if Paramore want the crowd to start moving, this is a good song to get them on their way, and they get into it themselves, adding some dance moves to the performance as they sing and play.


You don’t stay one of the most beloved bands for twenty years without building a good relationship with your fans, and this is incredibly apparent before ‘Rose Coloured Boy’, as Hayley talks fans through the sing-along verses in case anyone is new to the Paramore family, and laughs with the dedicated barrier fans that have been there since early this morning, inviting them to the Sydney Show to teach the fans there.

‘Rose Coloured Boy’ starts and the stage is awash with pink light. Hayley dances around the stage in the titular rose-coloured glasses as the band plays the feel-good song, the audience singing some of the loudest it’s been so far.


Next, she says she’s going to test how well we know the new album, and thanks us for the support on This Is Why, assuring us they don’t intend on stopping anytime soon- they then dive into ‘Running out of Time’, which she says is a more lighthearted and relatable song about exactly that- feeling like you’re never on time, and thanks the team behind Paramore for keeping it running. Thankfulness is woven throughout their set- Hayley Williams is a beautiful speaker and is constantly so grateful for everyone involved in Paramore and makes it known- be it her team or her fans- and it creates such a special environment, making a venue as big as the Brisbane Entertainment Centre feel so intimate.


‘Running Out of Time’ is incredible- Hayley runs on the spot while hitting some massive high notes. While she said people might not know it as well, mostly everyone does, and the singalong moments to ‘She’s always running out of time!’ are super fun.

‘Decode’ takes the set in a more angsty direction- one that is highly appreciated by the crowd, who are screaming in delight from the first note. Hayley gives an incredibly powerful and assured performance, with emotive guitar from Taylor York and touring member Brian Robert Jones, and dramatic lighting sweeping the entertainment centre.


The emotion is just as strong in ‘Last Hope’, which starts with some stunning acoustic guitar before the rest of the band comes in halfway through. Flashlights shine throughout the crowd creating a magical dreamy atmosphere, and it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful moments in the set.

We move back to This Is Why for ‘Big Man, Little Dignity’, a tongue-in-cheek moment from the new album. This is one of my favourite songs from the album sonically, and it’s even better live, with an extended instrumental featuring some amazing drums and ridiculously catchy riffs.


The stage dims again and another recorded interlude plays. Hayley now stands on a platform above the stage as the melancholic first bars of ‘Liar’ play. The way she sings is a bit gentler now- it feels very intimate and personal as she sways far above the stage, each person in the crowd transfixed.

We take it back down to a classic rocky vibe for ‘Crystal Clear’- one of Hayley’s solo songs from her album ‘Petals for Armor’. The bass in this song is so groovy, and the intro was amazing, with incredibly atmospheric howling guitars.

‘Hard Times’ has to be paused early in the song as a fan faints in the crowd. After checking everyone’s okay, we get right back into the song and Paramore doesn’t miss a beat, diving right back into where they left off flawlessly. After they finish the song, they thank the audience for getting their attention to the person who needed help.

The next song they introduce is ‘The Only Exception’, from Brand New Eyes. Before they play the song, Hayley speaks on the meaning behind it- it’s about loving someone regardless of if they fuck up, and how they thought it was embarrassing to write a lovey song when they were trying to be ‘hardcore’. Hayley Williams has an abundance of love and she’s willing to share it, saying

‘It’s important for us to bring this one back ‘cause this is our declaration to you that you are the love of our lives’.

The performance is absolutely beautiful. She hits a gorgeous extended high note in front of a waterfall of gold fireworks, with the crowd swaying gently and singing along. If the fans are the love of Paramore’s life, the feeling is certainly mutual, the crowd giving every inch of that love back to the band as they sing along.

Fog clouds the stage for ‘Crave’ creating a gentle, heavenly feeling- which is exactly what we need after experiencing so much emotion from ‘Last Hope’ and ‘The Only Exception’. The ending of the song is incredible, with Hayley kneeling on the floor as she sings the most incredible solo. Drummer Zac Farro then takes centre stage performing ‘Baby’ from his solo project HalfNoise, bringing a lovely indie rock feel to the stage with his drawling vocals and tambourine.


Hayley asks if anyone wants to take a trip down memory lane- all the way down.

‘We’re going back to 2007- it was a fateful year for Paramore and the first time we came to Australia’

To the crowd's shrieks of delight, they start playing Misery Business, bringing two over-the-moon fans up on the stage to help sing alongside Hayley Williams, streamers flying as the song reaches its climax. The set ends with a feel-good performance of 'Ain't It Fun', Hayley getting as close as she can to the barricade during the chorus as she sings.


To the delight of the audience, the band returns for an encore- it starts with a video montage of memories of the band throughout the years, before they move into 'Thick Skull', Hayley Williams again blowing us away with her incredible voice, and Zac Farro and Taylor York both giving an outstanding performance with emotive guitar and explosive drums against a background of golden lights.


They deliver another of our favourite nostalgic, feel-good hits with 'Still Into You' before closing out the night with their new album's titular track 'This Is Why' as confetti printed with the title rains down.



 

Paramore is an outstanding band and some of the most talented performers I've ever seen live. The tour continues tonight and tomorrow (27th & 28th November) in Melbourne.


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