Hayley Williams has her haters. But none of them was anywhere near a sold-out Manchester Arena as the first lady of emo came out fighting.
The last decade hasn’t always been kind to Williams. Well publicised and often bitter band bust-ups, a battle with her own personal demons and constant speculation that a solo career is inevitable have cast a shadow over Paramore’s relentless rise to rock’s summit.
But behind it all is the music. And this memorable show, played out in front of thousands of word-perfect devotees, proved that Paramore have amassed a canon capable of blasting the bulk of their peers out of the water.
Hunger underpinned a set that bristled with intent. Williams wanted it. Badly. And with every fresh song her desire to crush the critics shone through.
High kicks, slick dance moves, heartfelt crowd interaction and all the high notes – with this feisty tour de force Williams re-emerged as the frontwoman who really does have it all. Owning the stage, she treated her tenants to a night they’ll never forget.
If it’s been all too easy to believe the bad publicity then this was the moment the truth began to emerge. Williams performed like a rock star who actually gives a shit, an entertainer who believes in her craft and a personality strong enough to survive the worst that’s thrown her way.
But Paramore are a band. Just about. And the core trio, allied with a slick team of touring musos, delivered a sound so polished and clean you could eat your over-priced hot dog off it. Jeremy Davis and Taylor York might be dismissed as the ‘two blokes in Paramore’ but both are exceptional in their field.
Highlights were Ankle Biters, Ain’t It Fun and Brick By Boring Brick. But with Paramore it’s only when you strip away that last layer of polish that they really shine.
Only Exception, for example, really showed off Williams’ pipes and the interludes are a REALLY cool touch. That voice and Taylor playing a ukelele: inspired stuff.
On reflection Paramore appear supremely confident and proud of the new material and Williams sounded like she meant every word of ‘Im not angry anymore’. The trio is clearly enjoying the fact this is, in effect, a second shot at success and Now is an emotive Battle Cry.
Words And Pictures John Burrows @ishootgigs