Paramore, Royal Albert Hall, Monday, June 19
“It’s so good to be so close to you,” smiles Hayley Williams as Paramore’s barnstorming set draws to a close. “It’s such an intimate feeling to be surrounded by people you’ve really grown up with musically.”
Of course, it’s come to something when a show at the Royal Albert Hall is considered intimate but, by Paramore’s recent arena-conquering standards, it is. But whatever the size of venue, Paramore’s stock-in trade is intimacy and tonight only serves to strengthen the bonds between band and a fanatical fanbase that screams “I love you” whenever the volume drops below fever pitch (which, to be honest, is not very often at all).
Paramore’s latest album After Laughter is a departure from their usual emo-rock sound in the same way that the bright colours on stage and on the merch stand are a departure from their one-time any-colour-so-long-as-it’s-black approach. But, tonight, day-glo new songs such as Told You So (which opens the show), Fake Happy and the brilliant Rose-Coloured Boy fit seamlessly into a set that, despite not featuring anything from debut album All We Know Is falling, showcases a back catalogue to rank with anything else being seen on rock stages right now.
But then these, as Williams points out, have always been songs of “hope and empathy” as well as “pain and frustration” and, coupled with Williams’ livewire dynamism and her bandmates’ new, loose-limbed funk-guitar approach, makes for a breathless, hit-heavy set. They’re confident enough to throw out Still Into You four songs in, knowing that they still have Playing God, Ain’t It Fun (in which the band cavort about the stage with joyous abandon to match that in the stalls) and Misery Business – sung by a chorus of I-can’t-believe-I’m-on-stage-with-Paramore fans – to close the show.
That such fans seem every bit as committed to Paramore’s new, more pop-friendly sound suggests After Laughter has plenty of life yet to live and that, when Paramore next visit these shores, the venues are likely to be larger in order to fit more of them in. Paramore may no longer be exclusively in the business of misery, but business is still booming.