Words and photo by Elizabeth Tolbert
Many music fans have that one band that they prefer above all others. We go to multiple shows, own too much of their merch, and know their entire discography by heart, including B sides. There is something almost magical that connects us to this little group of people and the music they create. For me, at no other time do I feel this connection more strongly than when I see a band live. Almost any artist can make a technically good album, but only the best can translate that body of work into an unforgettable live experience. Paramore is one of the few that can do this and do it well. Paramore have been my favorite band for four years now and I’ve had the profound privilege of seeing them live a total of five times so far. I’ve watched as band members departed, leaving a trail of unkind words and scathing accusations in their wake. I then watched, with distinct pride, as the remaining members of Paramore, Hayley Williams, Jeremy Davis, and Taylor York, worked harder than ever to move forward and become the band they were always meant to be. Their efforts over the past three years have paid off remarkably, as Paramore set out on “The Self-Titled Tour”, a huge arena tour, and their biggest one to date, across the U.S. And so, it was with excitement and anticipation that I walked into Bridgestone Arena on November 26th to see Paramore for the fifth time in their hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.
Paramore have a hand in everything involving their live shows, from stage production to handpicking their support acts. Hellogoodbye and Metric, although very different in style and performance both from each other and from Paramore, successfully got the crowd moving and screaming for the headliners’ grand entrance. Silhouetted against the three vertical LED screens that made up the band’s official ‘three bars’ symbol, Paramore burst onto stage with their signature headbangs and infectious energy. Jumping right in to “Grow Up”, “Fast in My Car”, and “That’s What You Get”, it was clear from the very beginning that Paramore had stepped up their live performance game immensely. From the angry anthem “Ignorance” to the three ukulele “Interludes” and the acoustic-driven “In The Mourning” (with Fleetwood Mac cover), Hayley’s voice never faltered. Indeed, she sounded better than I’ve ever heard her. Taylor and Jeremy flew around the stage in time with the laser light show, never missing a note. I hardly recognized the band that I had first seen play as a five piece four years previously. Where there was once a bit of tension on stage, now there was evident friendship and fun. In Paramore’s case, losing two of their founding members has not hindered their performance, it’s made them better.
While Paramore’s performance and production value were larger than life, they still managed to make the show feel extremely intimate. Even sitting amongst nearly 20,000 other people, I still felt incredibly connected to their music and every other person in the room. Paramore have this unique ability to make their fans feel like family and it was especially prevalent at their hometown show that night. Though hometown shows are always special, this particular show was even more memorable as Hayley’s little sister performed in the “Ain’t It Fun” choir onstage and a friend proposed to his girlfriend during “The Only Exception”. Paramore finished out their set with their huge hits “Misery Business” and “Still Into You”, complete with orange confetti, balloons, and thunderous applause. This was the show I’ve always wanted to see from the band, and it provided a clear message. Paramore are better than ever and they’re here to stay.
Check out the set list below and more tour dates for Paramore on their website.
Fast In My Car
That’s What You Get
Interlude: I’m Not Angry Anymore
When It Rains
Brick by Boring Brick
Ain’t It Fun
The Only Exception
In The Mourning (w/Landslide cover)
Interlude: Moving On
Still Into You