As soon as this gig was announced the internet went alive with Paramore fans across the UK getting excited. The anticipation for tickets to such an intimate show was incredible. Luckily I managed to grab one before it sold out in under two minutes. I liked the way that it had been organised, turn up on the day with your email and proof of who you are, exchange that for a wristband and hey presto. No physical tickets existed, yet there were still touts trying to sell them. It reminded me of the first tours by the Arctic Monkeys who would only announce the town and venue on the day and sold tickets on a first come, first served basis.
Once inside, the atmosphere was incredible. Last time we covered Paramore they played to a sold out LG Arena, tonight in the 650 capacity Garage in Highbury, there was literally sweat dripping off the walls before the band had even arrived. At 8.20 the lights dimmed and the band arrived on stage, no support, yet oozing confidence. Without a word, the band kicked off into first single off the self-titled album Now. This track works so much better in a live environment, Jeremy’s bassline thunders along whilst Taylor’s guitar playing tingles along building and building into a huge crescendo. As soon as the chorus kicks in is where the essence of Hayley’s vocals shine. Say what you want about her, but she certainly knows how to throw notes from nowhere.
The gig was used as an official “launch” for the new album due on the following Monday. The set did lack tracks off the said album, but this was more about reminding everyone present who Paramore are, reminding them that they are still a band and to relax and enjoy themselves. The hits certainly packed out the set, ‘That’s What You Get’, ‘Decode’, ‘Pressure’ and ‘Careful’ were insane. The venue turned into a giant mosh pit and what felt like a trampoline. Fan favourites ‘Born For This’, ‘Let The Flames Begin’ and the sublime ‘Fences’ managed to somehow build the atmosphere even more.
Hayley was in fine form as a frontwoman. Captivating the whole audience, moving around the stage with extreme confidence and managing to smile throughout the entire show. The rest of the band including; Jon Howard on rhythm guitars and keyboards, Justin York on Guitars and Llan Rubin on drums really padded out the Paramore sound and gave them a lift. Granted it is an entirely different band to when the Farro brothers were on board, but they are benefitting in the live arena from having a rejuvinated lineup.
The main set finished on a high-spirited version of ‘Brick By Boring Brick’ and left the audience clammering for more. What felt like a slightly elongated pause, the just Hayley and Taylor returned to the fore. Hayley announced the reason for the slightly delayed return was because they had decided to make an adjustment to the setlist. They were going to treat us to an acoustic rendition of ‘Matilda’ by Alt-J, a track they performed only the day before on the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. This was met with a ravenous response. As the track started the room fell silent, but vocals started to join in and help along with the track.
The rest of the band returned to the stage and we get the UK Debut performance of ‘Still Into You’. This signalled pretty much everyone in the crowd to lift their hands up in the air and make the “love heart” symbol from the lyric video posted online just days before. Again, as with ‘Now’ the track sounds beefier live, the summery poppiness of the track sees Hayley once again bouncing all over the stage with her big grin and leaning forwards into the front rows.
The final song of the night is ‘Misery Business’. Before it starts, Hayley thanks us for coming along and announces that the band will be returning to the UK later in the year, possibly around October/November time and will complete a full tour… it sounds like an arena tour again, but I would much rather they return to the more intimate “theatre” type venues. We will see I guess! As the song starts the guy stood next to me grabs my shoulder and declares “This is going to go off!”… he was not wrong. As soon as the first bars were played, the mosh pit had moved across the room and the whole place was electric. The band take a bow and leave the stage just after 10pm.
For the price of the ticket, we got far much more of a show than I anticipated, we were all given a free commemorative plectrum on the way out too. A very nice touch to a superb show. Fingers crossed that the return tour later this year sees them keep up this new momentum they’ve found. It was a pleasure to have been one of the 650 in that room, I cannot wait for the next show.