Paramore

support Dutch Uncles
author TL date 24/06/13 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

When I was passing by Vega's main entrance earlier this afternoon on the way to my interview with Paramore, youngsters by the boatload were already waiting out in front, screaming "Still Into You" at the top of their lungs and waiting for an evening in company with their idols. It didn't seem like anyone here was letting it weigh on them that Paramore is short two members since last time. When chatting to the band however, I got the vibe that the young trio had learned the hard way, that the privilege of living out your dream on stage comes with the price of having to be cautious with how you condone yourself outside of it. Or put simply: Paramore has been through some tough things since last they were here, and as I return to the now sold-out Vega in the evening, I join a crowd of people - of quite various ages I might notice - waiting to see how the band would perform after their recent comeback. First though, there is as always the matter of the support band:

All photos courtesy of Jill Decome Photography

Dutch Uncles

Dutch Uncles are a quintet from Manchester whom I only managed to check out briefly on Spotify prior to heading to the show. They play a mathy indie-pop with dashes of 80s new wave and they sound a bit like bands like Air Bag One or Two Door Cinema Club, with a tendency to gradually layer their soundscapes more and more throughout their songs. When I was listening at home, my impression was that their problem was that the changes in their songs were a bit too subtle, in the sense where they don't really energize them enough to seize my attention. This is less true in the live setting, as especially their cool bass parts has some extra power here.

Despite smartly introducing themselves and their songs before playing however, and despite getting a good portion of the crowd clapping along on occasion, the band has a strangely awkward manner on stage that makes them feel weird to behold. It starts with their singer who - despite sounding nothing like the man - dresses and dances as oddly as Joy Division's Ian Curtis. Both his dance moves and the way he talks to the audience is just a bit too far on the weird side, and when you add this to the problems I mentioned with the music, the result is a show that isn't really as good as a benevolent audience is making it seem like. At least personally I find myself constantly reminded of Air Bag One, and how I think they're much better.

6

Paramore

When tonight's headliners enter the stage after about half an hour's worth of changeover time, they do so in front of two extra touring guitarists, their touring drummer and a large backdrop that has a big, framed "III" on it, through which we will be seeing the band's music videos as well as various animations over the course of the evening. The "III" strikes me as a symbol of the band's betting on themselves in their current trio formation, and having gotten the impression earlier that the group was acting slightly guarded off the stage, the symbol of intent only resonates with how they come on looking like they're drawing the first truly free and comfortable breaths of air they've had all day.

Granted, this could of course be all conjecture. The point is that when Paramore move from a gleeful acoustic opening with "Moving On", into the forward-storming tempos of "Misery Business" and "For A Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic", you quickly get the feeling that they genuinely love to play, moving about vividly and smiling widely to their audience. An audience that's in good form tonight, packing Vega's larger hall from wall to wall and singing the words of almost every lyric back with force and dedication. Grown or young, girl or guy, people are losing themselves in the fun songs, and choirs of screams and elation greet each song, as is especially apparent upon the arrival of the powerful "Twilight" theme-song "Decode".

While Paramore - and let's be honest, especially singer Hayley Williams who is nothing short of an iconic dynamo on stage - certainly looks great, the sound is not initially what you'd expect of a headlining band of this size. The guitars are low in the mix, and at least one of the backing guitarist has way too little monitor judging from his backing vocals being way off tune. If anybody is noticing however, they're not letting it spoil their fun, with people moving and singing energetically to even lesser known cuts like "Renegade" and "Let The Flames Begin", raising cellphones and reciting the words of "Only Exception" ceremoniously, and making a new song like "Ain't It Fun" really prove its worth, when it drawing even more moves and choirs out of people as it progresses into the gospel-ish part towards its end.

And particularly the gospel choirs of this song stand out to me, as being one of the only things I notice coming from a backing track tonight. The sound issues from early on are improved but never completely erased, as evident especially in the ridiculously heavy crunch applied to "Fast In My Car". You almost suspect Paramore of wanting to prove that they're as real as they come, despite their chart-topping status, which is admirable in its own way, especially because Williams again shows her star quality by singing with an enunciation that could cut words in stone and with a sharpness that could shatter glass. A capella parts are nailed with seamless ease and regular set closer "Still Into You" has the ridiculously high note in its bridge put even further out of the audience's range, as a seemingly rebellious display of power from rock's currently most famous head of orange hair.

Before ending first with "Still Into You" and then again with the one-two of "Proof" and "Brick By Boring Brick" however, we get a stretch of about four songs which seem a bit too dedicated to emphasising that Paramore is a band that's comfortable with its audience. Williams goes Billy Joe Armstrong when "Whoa" is extended forever to insure that everybody is screaming its namesake lyric appropriately loudly, and soon after, invitations extended to select fans from the front to come on stage turn a bit awkward, when the invited keep wanting Williams to invite their friends or get pictures taken with them as well. In her defense, the young star handles the spectacle firmly, yet seeming easy-going, and I for one am prone to believe every word she pauses to 'preach' about persevering in the face of adversity.

All things considered then, I'm sure most will think of tonight as a resounding success - A liberating party which unified many different Paramore fans in genuine appreciation of some of their very best songs. There were some small issues though - Williams giddily encouraging anybody that wants to jump from the balcony for instance, before realising she shouldn't be saying that and changing her mind. The mix stays more 'imperfectly real' than 'great' and the crowd-interaction draws on for a bit too long in a show that wouldn't have been worse off also including songs like "Emergency", "Crushcrushcrush" and/or "Careful". On the other hand, the band showed great energy, Williams singing was repeatedly jaw-dropping, the crowd was on fire from start to end and there were more good songs played than most bands have in their discography. So even if quite a bit is expected from bands on Paramore's level of fame, these things all help to firmly secure them a grade of:

8

Setlist:

  • Interlude: Moving On
  • Misery Business
  • For A Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic
  • Decode
  • Now
  • Renegade
  • Pressure
  • Ain't It Fun
  • The Only Exception
  • Let The Flames Begin
  • Fast In My Car
  • Ignorance
  • Looking Up
  • Whoa
  • Anklebiters
  • That's What You Get
  • Still Into You

Encore:

  • Proof
  • Brick By Boring Brick

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