Paramore & Best Coast played Radio City Music Hall (pics, review, setlist)
Paramore's Hayley Williams acknowledged more than once at Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday night (10/4) that the world we're living in is not a very good place right now, and she also discussed the healing power of music. Music can't fix everything, but it certainly can tend to some emotional wounds, and this year's After Laughter, Paramore's most lyrically heartbreaking and personal album yet, was a necessary step towards healing some of Hayley's personal wounds. It's also some of their most joyous sounding music, and the juxtaposition of the happy music and the sad lyrics comes across even more strongly live than on record. When a room of 6,000 people jump up and down, enthusiastically singing "I still don't know how I even survive," it's almost jarring but there's also a real power to it. That lyric really resonates this week, and when Paramore's sugary hooks induced a rush of endorphins in the thousands of people singing along to it, it felt like it gave everyone just a little bit more strength.
Paramore opened with "Hard Times," and throughout the night they interspersed songs from their three previous albums (nothing off the debut) with other happy-sounding sad songs from After Laughter like "Fake Happy," "Rose-Colored Boy," "Told You So," and "Caught in the Middle," which all had the same kind of powerful juxtaposition as "Hard Times." The current seven-piece band version of Paramore is razor sharp, and they handled all the '80s-inspired nuances of those songs as masterfully as they do on the album. They also used their '80s pop chops for a faithful cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere," which fits in perfectly with the new Paramore stuff (and probably inspired some of it). The new album isn't exclusively upbeat pop, though, and Paramore reminded us of that when Hayley and guitarist Taylor York played the heartfelt "26" as an acoustic duo. They had the sold-out crowd in the palms of their hands just as much as when they were playing the danceable songs.
The new songs really were the strongest songs in the set -- maybe because the band are excited to finally take them on the road, maybe because they're fresher in my head than the others, or maybe just because they really do hit harder in 2017 than the rest of Paramore's work -- but the band also did a great job of sending the crowd on a nostalgia trip. Before playing "Misery Business," Hayley had the crowd close their eyes and imagine they were ten years in the past, when people still used Sidekicks and Hayley still wore yellow skinny jeans. When everyone opened their eyes, the song's intro was playing over the PA, then the band came in and the whole theater went nuts. It was the second of two songs from the ten-year-old Riot! that they played (the other was the great "That's What You Get"), and at this point both really did feel like classics. It was also clear that those songs were from an era of Paramore that the band had grown out of (like she usually does these days, Hayley refrained from singing the "whore" lyric, a line she has since admitted was regrettable), and it served as another reminder of how much Paramore have grown with their fans.
During the encore, original drummer Zac Farro (who left the band in 2010 but rejoined for this album) joined Hayley at the front of the stage and sang a song from his Halfnoise project, which he started during his time away from Paramore. (He did "Scooby's in the Back," a hypnotic dose of psychedelic pop.) Zac's expert drumming is the band's not-so-secret weapon, and the Halfnoise bit was a nice way to welcome him back to the band.
The show was opened by Best Coast, who make a great pairing with Paramore. Their current five-piece lineup is their best live setup yet, and they did plenty of highlights from their beloved debut album, like "Boyfriend," "Crazy For You," "Our Deal," "I Want To," and "When I'm With You," and a handful of newer songs too.
Pictures of the show are in the gallery above. Some videos and Paramore's setlist below:
Paramore at Radio City - 10/4/17 Setlist
Still Into You
Brick by Boring Brick
That's What You Get
I Caught Myself
Hate to See Your Heart Break
Told You So
Everywhere (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Ain't It Fun
Caught in the Middle
Scooby's in the Back (Halfnoise song)
most photos by Amanda Hatfield