If you’ve heard of Paramore, you will probably be aware that – as well as being one of the best bands out there – they put on one of the most incredible live performances too. Their ability to adapt and mould their styles each era and translate them in a live setting successfully, is something truly magical.
At Manchester Arena, that magic is definitely still in the air. Opening with Hard Times, Paramore waste no time in ramping up the energy. Hard Times, despite it’s subject matter, is quite uplifting, especially in an arena setting. There’s even a small ode to Blondie’s Heart Of Glass in this, both in the rendition of the chorus mixed in impeccably with the melody of Hard Times and the way that vocalist Hayley Williams has dressed herself up for the night. Ignorance follows, with a twist, as a lot of it is performed with a megaphone. It’s a different live take that also adds an extra layer to the overall sound.
It’s hard to pick out merely one or two highlights when Paramore have this canny ability of performing each track at such a high caliber. That’s What You Get is always huge, in an arena it carries beautifully. Their set up is just as beautiful, having brought their US light set up with them – a mix of projections and strobes. It’s simple but then again, Paramore never needed anything huge to keep the attention of those who watch their show.
26 is an acoustic offering, in honour of those who lost their lives in the very same arena some 8 months ago. It’s introduced with a speech about how a Paramore show should always be a safe place. “That’s really how it should be”, Williams says, “that was the place that we got to be who we were and that was the place we could escape.” Silence rings out as the song begins, the arena lighting up with cell phone torches. Despite such a tragic event, music is still very much alive and much like a beacon of hope and light for fans who still look to live music for a safe space.
No Friend acts almost as a small interlude, Williams lays this one out – literally. Laying on the stage while MeWithoutYou’s Aaron Weiss thrashes about the stage singing the lyrics himself. However she makes a reappearance to close out the main body of the set with Misery Business – which brings three fans up to sing along – and the ever lively Ain’t It Fun.
For the encore, drummer Zac Farro comes front and center out of the confines of his kit to perform HalfNoise’s French Class (a track from Farro’s side project). While not that many seem to know the words, at least away from the first few rows, everyone is dancing.
Finally is Rose Coloured Boy and what a song to finish on. It’s perhaps one of the best from After Laughter and sounds wonderful live. The anthemic intro echoes through the arena, with everyone’s voices banding together in place of Williams’. Rose Coloured Boy allows the set to end on the highest of highs, while the setlist wasn’t all that different from the last time they were in Manchester at O2 Apollo, it is surely one of the most memorable. Not just for the setting, or the production but the sheer sense of community throughout the entire performance.