REVIEW – PARAMORE & BLEACHERS – SYDNEY QUDOS BANK ARENA

Fans have been waiting 4 years for Paramore’s return to Australia, and after another line up shift and new hit record, the Tennessee native rock trio hit the stage at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney last night for Tour 4.

After Laughter is the 5th release from the band. The record also marks the return of founding member Zac Farro who, along with his brother Josh Farro, departed from the band in 2010. The band last toured Australia in 2014 on their Self Titled Tour. The lengthy time between visits saw the departure of bassist Jeremy Davis in 2015, and also the introduction of new sound for the iconic rock band, moving into a more new-wave, pop-rock signature style. The record, mostly written by front woman Hayley Williams and York, touches on themes of depression, anxiety and exhaustion, contrasting the vibrant and upbeat sound of the record. With the album produced by guitarist Taylor York, alongside long time collaborator, Justin Meldal-Johnsen.

Joining the band on Tour 4 is indie-pop band Bleachers, fronted by the acclaimed record producer, Jack Antonoff. Antonoff, previously the lead guitarist of rock band Fun., is a longtime collaborator with pop super star Taylor Swift, having co-written and produced Lorde’s critically acclaimed sophomore album, Melodrama. The band played through tracks off their albums, Strange Desire and Gone Now. The high energy set got the crowd pumped and moving.

The lights went down and Paramore took to the stage. The three piece band, (accompanied on tour by three other musicians) opened with the lead track, Hard Times. An extended, heavier intro was almost a bridge between their last tour before leading into the vibrant synthesised sounds of Tour 4. The band then played through fan favourites Ignorance, which Williams partly sang through a megaphone, and Still Into You, receiving a raucous reaction from fans.

Personally, Forgiveness was a stand out moment of the night for me. The mellow rock tune with synthesised sounds took me back to seeing Fleetwood Mac perform in the very same venue back in 2015. The vibrant colours, projected onto a circular lighting rig hovering above the band, paired with Williams’ on stage presence and her tousled curls attributed to this. The band then played one of their most recent singles, Fake Happy, which saw fans chanting along. This was followed by fan favourite, the nostalgic, That’s What You Get.

This tour marks the first time since it’s release, that Paramore did not perform one of their most well known track’s, the Twilight theme, Decode. Instead they performed another offering from the film’s soundtrack, I Caught Myself. Another notable missing hit was The Only Exception, although last nights set didn’t need it. Hate to See Your Heart Break stood out as the nights emotional ballad. This being another track that gave off those Fleetwood Mac vibes, it was such an emotional and openly raw moment of the show, and in my opinion a much more fitting ballad to suit the upbeat 80’s synth vibes of the After Laughter heavy set. The band played through tracks off the album such as Pool, Caught in the Middle, Idle Worship and the second release of the record, Told You So. Another great sing along moment during the set.

I was glad to see the inclusion of No Friend in the show. The track marks the first time in their 12 year career that Williams was not featured on a song. There is a spoken word monologue delivered by MewithoutYou’s Aaron Weiss, over the top of York and Farro delivering inversions of the riff from Idle Worship. The monologue is a sort of continuation from the songs lyrics, and makes reference to past Paramore songs. Williams is undoubtedly one of the greatest front women, but it was a nice change of pace where she momentarily disappeared and we got to see the remainder of the band take centre stage.

It wouldn’t be a Paramore show without that iconic Misery Business moment. Before the band played their breakout hit, Williams took a moment to remind fans who she was, who the band were, and who the fans were when the track was released in 2006, being a far cry from who we all are now. She told fans: “The most important thing to take away from tonight, not even having anything to do with the song we’re about to play, is that the people we are today, let’s say in 2018, is not the same people we were in 2006. So as we play this next song together, I want you to celebrate the fact that we’re growing, and we’re moving forward, and we’re changing. Because people do change, contrary to what 2006 Hayley thought.” This moment of reflection on the past, and their growth as a band, and as people, was a great moment. The band continued with tradition, and brought one lucky fan onstage to sing the bridge to the track and jam with the band.

Paramore then closed the set with their Grammy Award winning track Ain’t It Fun. After thanking fans, the band left the stage to the chant, “don’t go crying to your mama, cause you’re on your own in the real world.” After a brief blackout, Paramore returned to the stage with Grow Up, from their 4th record, Paramore. Towards the end of the song they incorporated a snippet of SZA’s 20 Something.

Williams then invited Farro to centre stage to perform French Class from Farro’s solo project, HalfNoise. The track saw Williams take a backing vocals position and Farro on lead vocals, complete with a dance break from the duo. After the song ended Williams took the opportunity to thank and introduce the band Justin York, Logan MacKenzie, Joel Mullen, Joey Howard, Farro, York and herself before telling fans, “we are Paramore. Actually we’re almost Paramore,” before telling fans that they too were members of the band. The arena then coursed with fans screaming, “WE ARE PARAMORE”. And with that, it was time to say goodbye and goodnight with one final song. The band’s latest single with a newly released music video, Rose Colored Boy. Paramore then bid their fans goodbye one last time, with hopes it won’t be as long between visits.

Having seen Paramore live a handful of times, musically, visually, production wise, Tour 4 was by far the best. The tour saw the band at their most cohesive form, leaving no room to question what kind of band Paramore are. Williams had told the crowd they needed two things: tissues and dancing shoes. They provided both emotional moments and party moments, therefore meeting her initial instruction. The colourful, vibrant and upbeat night was one to remember.

By Vasili Papathanasopoulos @anyotherdayphotography

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