Review: Paramore at Qudos Bank Arena, 9 February 2018

“The most important thing we know is that the people we are today are not the same as who we were in 2006.”

Amen. Hayley William’s words rang clear through Qudos Bank Arena, before leaping into the 2006 breakout hit Misery Business. An earnest response to critics who have recently called out her less than PC choice of lyrics in that track (written at age 17), she covered her mouth in protest during the offending phrase.

If this show demonstrated anything, it was that Paramore, both ideologically and sonically, have grown a whole lot in the last 12 years.

Before all of that, though, the band opened with a mashup of ‘Hard Times’ and Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’, setting the tone for a night where pop and punk needn’t be mutually exclusive. (Debbie Harry, eat your heart out.)

Their change in sound shook the arena. New-wave dance beats had the whole crowd moving as one to Caribbean-influenced percussion (with the addition of a dedicated percussionist to the live lineup); a new and different sound, but still a giant one, making everyone take notice.

Pulling from influences like ska and 80’s synth-pop, but still with some trademark attitude, the audience got pop with an edge, rather than punk without it.

Even since the early days of ‘Riot’, Paramore have been considered by the media as ‘almost cool’;  not quite old, raw, wise or angry enough to be truly punk. For this they may have been taken less seriously – not fully embraced by either the punk or pop crowds and dismissed as not having a ‘genuine’ sound.

However, in a great twist of irony, pure unadulterated pop may be the most authentic iteration of Paramore yet. They’ve always had a pop edge to their music, but it seems that with this tour they are embracing this wholeheartedly. The crowd was loving it, and so was Hayley.

Her energy and stamina were incredible, hitting staggeringly high and demanding notes without faltering, all while dancing and high-kicking across the stage. Her freedom of movement seemed wild, imperfect and uncontrolled, bringing a revitalizing and unhinged energy to their older tracks, elevating them beyond mere nostalgia while also taking the newer tracks way beyond the realms of standard live pop.

For a band that’s been around over 10 years, it was a surprisingly young crowd; lots of young kids and teenage fans which was great to see. It seems Hayley has lost none of her touch, with the age of Instagram and YouTube bringing a whole new legion of fans to the mosh pit, singing along to every word.

Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot for the die hard fans of their earlier sound. Notable exclusions from the set list were their hits ‘Only Exception’ and ‘Decode’, instead favouring more upbeat tracks to better compliment the newer ones.

This led to moments where the show felt a bit one-note, with little variation in the pace. But, if you’re gonna hit one note, at least it was a fun one.

If this tour was anything to go by, it seems Paramore have found their sweet spot; that No Doubt vibe of new wave pop with a ‘Fuck You’ attitude. It’s refreshing in an age of over-production and soulless lyrics.

Although it seems they’ve been on the verge of something huge for 10 years now, this tour might push them over the edge into mainstream pop vernacular with a new sound and a new audience.

Paramore gave us more, more, more and then some.

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