In 2006, I saw Paramore on their first headlining tour. The 600-capacity theater was half full, but it was a night I’ll always remember. This isn’t an “I liked them before you, recognize how cool I am” move, but rather a way to explain how breathtaking it was to see my favorite band go from playing tiny clubs to entertaining gigantic arenas. Last Saturday, Paramore brought their largest tour to date to the Honda Center in Anaheim, and if this year’s self-titled album didn’t show the band is back and more confident than ever, their sensational live show certainly did.
Opener Hellogoodbye has traveled in the same circles as Paramore for years, and their upbeat electro-pop nicely warmed up the audience. Accompanied by synthesizers and a ukulele, lanky lead singer Forrest Kline danced to the best of his ability through crowd favorites “When We First Met” and “Here In Your Arms.” The five piece closed the set with their sample-heavy single “Everything Is (Debatable)” off their new album of the same name, which drops today, October 22nd.
Female-fronted act Metric’s dreamy synth-pop was next, and throughout their set, leather-clad vocalist Emily Haines bounced between her keyboard and strutting across the stage. The Canadian band crafted dreamy soundscapes with samples in “Dreams So Real” and vocal modulators in the slow-building “Breathing Underwater.” A blinding strobe light show backlit Haines as she fist pumped with the audience over throbbing synthesizers and bass and picked up a guitar for closer “Gold Guns Girls.”
Paramore’s three-line logo, representing the trio’s unity after the past few rocky years, lit the stage as the band opened with the power-pop track “Grow Up.” The appropriate lyrics, “Some of us have to grow up some times,” welcomed the screaming fans to the evening of newfound determination and assured them that Paramore had returned with a renewed enthusiasm.
The arena-sized performance was the fourth stop of “The Self-Titled” tour, promoting Paramore’s recent release after a three year semi-hiatus. From start to finish, Williams commanded the attention of the 17,000+ seat arena, playing out to the crowd as much as possible. Shedding her leather jacket with “GROW UP” scrawled across the back, she launched into the equally high-energy “Fast In My Car” and encouraged the crowd to loudly sing gang vocals in “That’s What You Get.”
Steadfast bandmates Jeremy Davis and Taylor York seemed content to stay silent through the show as Williams carried the evening’s narration. The fire-haired female proved both her vocal ability and stage presence as she bounced from one end of the expansive stage to the other. Williams has reached a new level of confidence, as she hip thrusted, slam danced, head banged, and even spat in between verses of the haunting “Decode” and biting “Ignorance” as her soaring vocals filled the arena. Who said rock and roll was just for men, anyways?
Paramore’s show was built for the giant venue as lasers cut through the arena and light shows accompanied most songs. The anthemic “Now” and “Daydreaming” were designed for the epic evening with gang vocal-filled choruses.
A much-needed breather came for Williams as she brought a piano onstage for “Last Hope” and explained that Paramore’s recent record, the group’s first number one album, was recorded in nearby Silverlake. She quickly shifted gears, however, and bounced around like an aerobics instructor through the double shot of “Brick by Boring Brick” and “Crushcrushcrush.” She happily told the crowd, “This place is so big, I have to address each section. This is a dream come true,” before the opening bars of “Ain’t It Fun” rang out. Williams welcomed the original choir used to record the track to the stage and belted the vocal runs alongside the group.
The group’s love song “The Only Exception” followed and, due to the popularity of the iPhone, the crowd lit up with thousands of tiny camera lights, creating a breathtakingly beautiful moment. Williams graciously thanked fans for their support and played the rare single, “In The Mourning,” released during the band’s rough years, blending in Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” She encouraged the audience to “always hold on and have hope” and assured fans that “us being onstage tonight is proof that you can get through anything.”
Then it was time for old-school hits “Pressure” and breakout single “Misery Business,” during which a fan was invited onstage to sing the bridge (loudly and surprisingly well). The sprawling “Part Two” with an overwhelming light show with lasers and strobes began the encore, and Paramore’s recent single “Still Into You” ended the night with a colorful dance party of balloons as paper butterflies filled the arena. Thousands of fans poured out of the arena buzzing with excitement over a band that thankfully seems to have no end in sight.
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