After a bit of a break from touring, Paramore began “Tour 2” this summer with a dual purpose: to unify their shifting band members and to give a show both full of surprises and able to recapitulate the band’s entire 13 years together. Tour 2 arrived in Boston on Oct. 7 with Paramore’s rocked-out show at the Boston Opera House. The younger audience proved that the classic Noughties rock band’s foray into poppier climes with their newest album “After Laughter” is garnering them new, enthusiastic followers. Those there purely for the throwback kicks, however, were by no means forgotten. (Anyone expecting a high standard of sound quality, however, left disappointed.)
Screaming teenagers (and, curiously, some old fogey dads) crammed into Boston Opera House for a set that roiled across hard rock to brighter pop beats. Irrepressible lead singer Hayley Williams literally kicked off the concert with “Hard Times,” the lead single from their new album, with hair swishes, high-kicks and pirouettes that she kept up without pause for the next two hours. Swirling, brightly coloured projections onto the back of the stage in concentric rings added extra verve. The synth-pop sounds belied the band’s willingness to change with the alt-indie times, yet the rest of the crowd-pleasing opening set proved they are still Paramore through and through. Williams yelled “Ignorance,” a song from their “Brand New Eyes” album, through a megaphone into the mic to a blizzard of strobes, before successfully cutting to the unashamedly fun and dweebish schoolgirl cries of “Still Into You.”
Williams’ humor was also on top form during a concert of numerous gags and one amusing stunt involving crazy ghost costumes. During their sing-a-long hit “Brick by Boring Brick,” an over-excited fan threw a drink onto stage. Williams asked if anyone wanted a lemon before lobbing one into the crowd and jumping into the accusational “Playing God.” A number of slower, melancholic songs and an upbeat cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere” prompted Williams to reassure the audience that their hard rock credentials should not be stripped from them. She then cast everyone’s minds back to 2007 and reminded us all of our dodgy hairstyles from back then (shudder), before charging into the band’s top hit “Misery Business.” In celebration of the tenth anniversary of the song and the enduring love of their fans, some lucky girls dressed in ghost costumes (no explanation given) were the chosen three who got to live out the dream of blasting out the last chorus on stage.
It was the quieter, introspective tracks, however, that proved to be the surprise highlight of the evening. Joking that “Riot” was probably written in reaction to the saccharine-sweet musical “Hairspray,” Williams justified the need to sing more vulnerable songs to “speak our hearts” while maintaining the band is as angry as ever. The country strains of the compassionate “Hate to Hear Your Heartbreak” from their self-titled fourth album speaking to the band’s Tennessee roots led to a sincerely moving rendition of the new song “26.” The acoustic strums of long-term lead guitarist Taylor “T” Yorke and gentle lilts of Williams’ voice deftly shifted the mood to solemnity.
The only problem was that the songs were not the only hit of nostalgia; the noisy sound quality was a terrible reminder of the half-broken cheap CD player on which many in the audience might have heard their first tracks as tweenagers.
The defiant and upbeat “Ain’t It Fun” nevertheless had the crowd dancing around by the end of the main set, ready for an encore that celebrated the band’s reunification with drummer Zac Farro and touring band members. When the only constant member of 13-year-old Paramore is Williams, introducing the band members is pretty necessary. Farro was welcomed back after a six-year hiatus by swapping him in as lead singer for a song. Touring guitar members also got their spot in the limelight, but it was T, current lead guitarist and fellow songwriter since 2007, who inevitably received the biggest cheer from the adoring fans. It was therefore only fitting that the ever-evolving band finished up with “Rose-Colored Boy,” the most striking expression of their move into ’70s-esque technopop.
“Tour 2, 3, 4 to infinity!” Williams proclaimed. Paramore has certainly earned its survival stripes by coming back with “After Laughter.” To quote one of their own lyrics: “There’s a time and a place to die, but this ain’t it.”
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