‘Rip up your tissues and put your dancing shoes on’
Friday night saw the invasion of Paramore at the Manchester Arena; they were home.
Walking around this familiar arena was a little different this time. I hadn’t been back since the attack in May; having lived right next to the arena at the time, and having spent around 7-8 hours trying to search for the missing/help the stranded on the night of the bombing, there was a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I couldn’t quite describe. However, if there was a night to return to the arena for the first time since May, it was 19th January 2018. And if there was a band to make it feel alive again, it was – and still is – Paramore.
My first experience with Paramore was 10 years ago, almost to the day. I was seated in the O2 Apollo (Carling Apollo, at the time), on 30th January 2008. I still have an exclusive, live CD of that gig. Fast forward 10 years and around 30 shows later, I still get that childlike feeling of excitement whenever I am on my way to see Paramore; you’re coming home to your family.
The night was kicked off by Pennsylvanian rockers, mewithoutYou. Clearly bringing some fans along of their own, mewithoutYou entered the stage to a hearty, welcoming applause, and began the evening with a fantastic performance of Red Cow from their album, ‘Pale Horses’. Their powerfully dynamic show continued into ‘Brother, Sister’ track C-Minor, and ‘It’s All Crazy!…’ track The Fox, The Crow and The Cookie’. Unfortunately, due to venue rules, I had to disappear at this stage. However, I did manage to catch a few muffled snippets when the multiple venue doors were opened in alignment, including ‘Ten Stories’ track, Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume, which featured an appearance from Hayley Williams.
At about 8.30pm, the other photographers and I made our way back into the venue, readying ourselves for the main event. Anticipation built amongst the barrier audience; when the photographers are allowed out, something’s about to start. Coming on 4 minutes early than scheduled, Paramore, who are at least Zac, Hayley, Taylor and touring members Logan, Joseph, Justin and Joey, made their way onto the stage to a thunder of applause and screams.
The band dove straight into the peppy ‘After Laughter’ track Hard Times. The contagious energy of each musician on stage was felt throughout the arena; Hayley bounded about, belting the lyrics with an unfaltering voice; Zac pounded his drums with intense passion; and Taylor humbly and effortlessly delivered a faultless performance. The band, after slipping in a snippet of Blondie’s Heart of Glass during Hard Times, jumped straight into the angsty Ignorance. Hayley’s use of a megaphone gave the track an emotionally raw sound, complementing the punchy guitar perfectly. Following that came a definite crowd favourite: Still into You.
The new album, ‘After Laughter’, featured heavily on the set list, with 10 of its tracks filling the 19-track show. Each song, both old and new, was delivered with such genuine elation; it is clear that this is exactly where Paramore belong.
An outstanding moment for me came mid-set; in the few days before the show, a twitter campaign, #26forManchester, circulated social media with the aim of getting Paramore to add ‘After Laughter’ track, 26, to the set list for those who lost their lives, and for the city who stood united throughout May’s the tragedy. Despite being aware of this beforehand, nothing could prepare me for it. No amount of pride will stop me from admitting that I cried like a baby throughout the haunting performance. The show acted like a form of personal closure, and the addition of 26 was the final piece.
Paramore are one of those bands who arguably sound better live, and Friday night was no exception. Even if you’re not a fan of their music, their talent is undeniable and their stage presence infectious. I can safely say that Manchester is more than ready for Paramore to return, and Paramore, on behalf of our city, I say thank you.