Paramore Urges Fans to 'Follow Us Through the Fire': Concert Review
“We weren’t sure who was gonna follow us through the fire,” Paramore singer Hayley Williams told a sold-out crowd at Los Angeles; Wiltern Theatre on Wednesday night. “We weren’t sure if we were even gonna get through it… And now here we are -- playing one of the first songs we ever wrote at The Wiltern and there are people here who followed us.”
The fire the orange-haired singer was referring to is the tumultuous departure of two of Paramore’s formative members at the end of 2010. The group’s new album, Paramore, which recently bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200, was created in the aftermath of that exit, a varied declaration of self on behalf of the now-trio.
The Franklin, TN band, comprised of Williams, guitarist Taylor York and bassist Jeremy Davis, as well as several touring members, was very clear on the happy dynamic they’ve embraced as a threesome. The stage backdrop on this U.S. underplay tour in support of the new disc features a video screen made of three pillars, like a Roman numeral III, an obvious but endearing symbol of who Paramore is now.
The Wiltern performance, which followed a dynamic set by Los Angeles rock band Kitten, whose singer Chloe Chaidez feels like a descendent of Karen O's, was filled with appreciation from Williams and her band. Swinging from early songs like “Whoa” and “Pressure” to new album cuts like “Fast In My Car” and “Ain’t It Fun,” Paramore showcased the five albums that have brought them to this point, offering the screaming crowd a way of feeling involved in the band’s success.
Near the end of the hour-and-a-half set, Williams gathered several fans onstage (many of whom were appropriately clad in a shade of orange that matched the singer’s hair and microphone) for a rendition of “Ankle Biters,” a bounding punk number off Paramore. “I could go on about this song because it’s my favorite one,” Williams said. “I guess I just want to get some of these people who we love so much onstage to help us sing.”
The show felt notably intimate, even from the back corners of The Wiltern, namely because Williams engaged the fans on each song, offering them the opportunity to carry the choruses and continually thanking them for their ongoing support. Even the new fans, those who recently found their way onto the Paramore bandwagon, felt appreciated as Williams noted, “To you guys who are just catching on ... you give us purpose, too.”
The production was minimal, featuring a few blasts of smoke and some explosive bursts of confetti, but for the most part Paramore can carry any room, always led by Williams’ vocal. The band, who will embark on a bigger U.S. tour in the fall, present themselves like a rock band, but it’s clear at this point that Paramore has the potential to succeed groups like No Doubt or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs into pop. The group’s current single, “Still Into You,” which was dedicated to Conan O’Brien at the Wiltern (Paramore’s Tuesday appearance on his show was canceled because Williams was under the weather), is a buoyant, hook-heavy potential pop hit -- and it deserves such success.
If fans will follow Paramore through the fire -- and it’s clear that they will -- it’s because the band continues to expand their appeal on each release, perpetually offering a sense of welcome to any listener. As the band played “Looking Up,” off 2009’s brand new eyes, the song’s lyrics took on a grander meaning than was probably initially intended. “I can’t believe we almost had to give up,” Williams howled. “We’re just getting started.”
Interlude: Moving On
For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic
Ain't It Fun
The Only Exception
Let the Flames Begin
Fast in My Car
That's What You Get
Still Into You
Brick By Boring Brick