What a strange set up we have here – a virtually unheard of opener, a chart-storming R’n’B artist, and arguably the biggest name in pop-rock currently doing the rounds. It’s incredible how far Paramore have come in just four years since visiting the UK for the first time, now playing to in excess of ten thousand people in Newcastle tonight – wonder if a certain Twitter picture has anything to do with it all?
NY indie-poppers fun. kick off proceedings tonight with their jingled-up sound not quite reaching the upper echelons of the Arena they’re engulfed in, but they make the most of it and get some early hands clapping. In total honesty, whilst frontman Nate Reuss clearly packs a bit of charisma – and a hefty amount of stamina to run between each side of the massive stage he’s faced with – this band as a whole sound nothing better than Owl City without a quirk, and that’s a pretty depressing sound to make. A sharp cover of Queen’s Radio Ga Ga seeps through as a highlight, but it’s pretty obvious that the band don’t belong in a place like this so early on. fun. they might be, but fun. they are not.
Rising rap star B.o.B fares a little better – obviously, more people have heard him dominate the charts in recent months with various collaborations, but it’s clear they’re only interested in one particular duet. For near forty-minutes before that though, the audience are subjected to some pretty impressive stage work and some questionable singing – by which I clearly mean miming, backing tracks creeping their way in throughout the set. Magic without Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo fares brilliantly in a live environment, and even a quick MGMT cover thrown in for good measure helps along a pretty lengthly set for an artist with only one album to his name. Airplanes naturally sets off the screams, and is executed to near perfection (if you want to call it that). A pretty impressive performance, but if you like your music live, you might just need a couple of paper bags.
Paramore are ridiculously huge now, and it’s not like they’ve broken new ground with anything they’ve ever done – before them it was Avril Lavigne, and Gwen Stefani with No Doubt, but it’s the sheer appeal of the band to today’s generation that has really broken them into full-scale arena shows they stand faced with tonight.
Bursting straight into the edgy Ignorance, it’s so clear just how easy tonight is going to be for the band, letting the audience sing back a big chunk of the words without any awkward silences. It’s pretty tight stuff, and a lot of the now quintet’s songs sound a lot heavier in a live environment, step forward beloved oldie Emergency which still features predominantly in the band’s set today. The stage show only adds to the heat – there’s massive video screens, a full production that really does benefit the band’s live set tenfold. There’s a healthy mix of songs from all three albums, even if it is sometimes a little hard to differentiate between them.
There are some niggles, though – the band could easily fit in a good few extra songs at the expense of the pointless banter spouting from pink-pint-sizer Hayley Williams‘ gob – she’s hell bent on making a speech that it’s clear gets an outing every. single. night. It’s recycled garbage that only gets worse through a mid-set acoustic mini-session – When It Rains sounds calm and affectionate, and really does get people interested, but when that’s multiplied by four, it starts to take the piss a little. Hayley is clearly someone who loves to be loved, taking around six minutes to introduce Riot! single CrushCrushCrush by claiming she’d like to rip out every single seat in the arena for people to stand.
From then on in, it’s by the numbers stuff – Pressure gets a welcomed outing, and a short encore sees single Brick By Boring Brick and Misery Business receiving mass screeches from pre-teens in hysterics. What started off well really did become a bit of a swizz – for such a good live voice, Miss Williams is perhaps the band’s greatest asset and their biggest downfall – less of the small talk, next time.
– George Cannings.