|Paramore, Islington Garage, 05.04.2013. Copyright Jenessa Williams SafetyInSound|
The last time I saw America’s pop punk sweethearts Paramore, it was in 2010, at London’s largest venue, the 02 Arena. At the peak of their powers, the five piece were finishing their biggest world tour to date, riding high of the success of their third record, an album that was chock full of songs about the demons they had overcome and how good friends they all were again. Put simply, they were one of the most fun, vibrant and accomplished live bands I have ever witnessed.
|Hayley Williams, Copyright Jenessa Williams SafetyInSound|
Fast forward to 2013, and things are a very different story. Brothers Josh and Zac Farro, drummer and guitarist respectively, have left the band on very bitter terms, allegedly due to the revelation that Hayley Williams, the bands flame haired frontwoman, is the only member officially signed to a contract. With the tensions fuelling more press than their records, they have been forced to go back to the drawing board, using tonight’s gig at the Islington garage as a reward to their fans before they embark on their next adventure.
Kicking off with latest single Now, a statement of kicking and screaming intent, it is clear that their show is still as well-oiled as three years ago. Not stopping to mess around with too much unheard material, they treat their dedicated audience of 650 to a greatest hits selection that spans their 9 year career.
The fans are as dedicated as ever – they sing devotedly along to each and every song, even a rare outing of vinyl only In The Mourning, their most delicate outing to date and probably the most touching track about their now estranged ex members. Despite the musical assurance that Paramore are now standing on their own three sets of feet, their ex members presence looms heavy over the evening. Hayley thanks the fans regularly for sticking with the band despite ‘tough times’ and for not believing what they’d read in the papers, disgruntling (Kerrang’s editor who was in attendance to the point of a twitter battle after the gig). It seems even now, they can’t quite win everyone’s affection.
|Paramore, Islington Garage, 05.04.2013.|
Copyright Jenessa Williams SafetyInSound
But when Paramore fire on all cylinders, they are a truly spectacular live band. The room they fill is only a 10% of their potential crowd size, but they head bang in furious synchronicity throughout, clearly giving it their all. Extended fan favourite Let The Flames Begin has earnt a steely edge from years of practice, both Williams’ and bassist Jeremy Davis’ necks seemingly made of elastic as they swings back and forth, thrusting microphones into the rabid, sweaty crowd. The vocals that made her name are still in full force despite her diminutive stature, particularly powerful during the acapella intro of Renegade and the soaring Brick By Boring Brick.
After a dubious cover of Alt J’s Matilda that is well sentimented but doesn’t quite work with Williams’s strong Tennessee accent, they peak with Still In You, their latest single that possess a strong pop sensibility for a band one labelled as ‘emo’: it’s a lot more effervescence than evanescence. With the inevitable finale that is Misery Business, they prove that they still have plenty of fight left in them. Rewarding each and every member of their audience with a unique numbered guitar pick, this was an event purely for the fans.
Considering her rant about the music press, I doubt Hayley or indeed Paramore care about reviews, and certainly won’t be interested in this one. But for the record, I still think many bands could do a lot worse than modelling themselves on Paramore’s humility and dedication. And the tunes aren’t half bad either.