“What’s up London?!”, screams a impossibly tiny redhead from centre stage in the humid Mean Fiddler.
It’s the final night of Paramore‘s first ever full UK tour and, so 17 year old singer Hayley Williams later reveals, also the last time the five-strong Tennessean teenage rockers will tour with debut album ‘All We Know Is Falling’, released earlier this year.
But before the climactic and somewhat saddening headline performance, fans are required to hold up their already sweaty, bruised bodies for the two supports. I’m not exaggerating – the venue is absolutely packed even before The Riverclub’s entrance. The predictable power pop rockers from Kent start up with a lively thirty minute set of songs, to surprisingly good reception. The reception is surprising because it’s clear to anyone with ears that this band is going nowhere. Their music is not original and cannot even compete lyrically or instrumentally with the bands they’ve been thrown into the same category as (Fall Out Boy rings a bell).
It’s somewhat relieving to know that there’s another group due on before Paramore’s entrance at 9.30. But that relief quickly sours into despair with one look at the musicians before us. Madina Lakes is, on appearance, a less fleshy/rebellious Towers Of London. Their music, it transpires, is also exactly that. Slushy, nonsensically-worded From First To Last-esque cliché emo with a much softer (but still irritating) vocalist. One of the guitarists stopped us outside to announce that they will be supporting My Chemical Romance next year. Thanks for warning me; I’ll know not to turn up in time to see you.
It’s getting irritably late – over two hours have passed since everyone entered and it shows, security having to squirt bottles of water down throats of fans in the first few rows to stop them passing out from the strain of keeping their great view of the stage. Finally the band emerges, a little sheepish. Guitars are plugged in and the fiery songstress begins thrashing her head in time to the opening of previous download single ‘Emergency‘. Cue frantic screams and the show kicks off…
After having recently cancelled their Reading and Leeds festival appearances, as well as many shows in the US, due to the intermittent fragility of Williams’ vocal chords, it’s almost a blessing that Paramore have managed to make it thus far. Incredibly, despite the fact that this is their last appearance, Hayley’s voice is completely top notch – she hits difficult pitches with enough struggle to show that she’s putting her all into it, but is still safely able to pull off every word she sings. The setlist is similar to that of their Give It A Name (Introduces) set earlier this year but, considering only about 30 people turned up to see them then and there are over 800 people in the room now, it’s doubtful that many of those here tonight have heard any of the record live yet.
The set flows through highlights of the album including ‘Conspiracy’, ‘Pressure’, ‘Franklin’ and title track ‘All We Know (Is Falling)’. Also featured is an acoustic cover of the Foo Fighters’ ‘My Hero’ – a risky but impressive rendition.
All comes to an end just under one hour later with a surprisingly moving rendition of ‘My Heart’, the lyrics of which are dedicated to fans of the band. I’ve yet to work out why my stomach flip-flopped at that point – perhaps it was seeing Williams and her band up on stage, clearly putting all they had into this performance, emotional not just because it was their last this year but also because it meant that, finally, they would be able to return home. With an average age of 18-19, it’s pretty incredible that this band have survived an entire year without touching base.
Although the reference is quite obvious, I can’t help but flashback to this time three years ago. A certain pint-sized, loveable but aggravated pop punk princess was on that very stage belting out very similar songs. Six months later, she had a number one album and a year after that, she played Wembley. However much anyone tries to deny it, Hayley Williams is the new Avril Lavigne. Paramore are a fast-blossoming, soon to be stadium-ready band. And that’s really not a bad thing.
[Photos from www.myspace.com/paramore]