Matthew Broderick makes his London stage debut in Kenneth Lonergan’s new play.
The release of After Laughter, the fifth studio album by Nashville outfit Paramore, has seen the band further cement their place as melodic masters. Continuing the trend they kickstarted with their self-titled record back in 2013, tonight showcases a reinvigorated confidence, with vocalist Hayley Williams once again joined by founding member Zac Farro and longterm guitarist Taylor York.
More of an evolution than a reinvention, their dedication to more recent material is clear. Their setlist consists of songs predominantly from their self-titled and most recent album. Only Misery Business and That’s What You Get make the cut from Riot, a record currently celebrating its tenth anniversary. Tonight isn’t about nostalgia; despite Hayley’s quick reference to the milestone, the band (a seven-piece on stage) are unquestionably looking forward.
There’s a clear consideration to each individual fan in the room, not least with a rare appearance of Decode b-side I Caught Myself and a mesmerising rendition of I Hate To See Your Heart Break. The entire set is bookended by two heavy-hitters from After Laughter, the insatiable Told You So and huge lead single, Hard Times. The latter provides a suitably joyous close to a spectacular evening.
Elsewhere, they squeeze in a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere, a clear influence to their increasingly upbeat sound. Like Fleetwood Mac before them, Paramore brilliantly blend their melodies with introspective and brutally honest lyrics. Never more so than on Fake Happy, a standout from After Laughter and an easy highlight of the evening.
As well as Hard Times, the encore presents Forgiveness as an even bigger hit in a live setting, as well as an opportunity for the recently returned drummer Zac Farro to showcase his solo-project, Halfnoise. It’s yet more evidence that Paramore are done with looking back.
Their already exceptional new material is elevated further at the Royal Albert Hall. Against the backdrop of the venue’s imposing Henry Willis organ, Hayley Williams has evolved into a captivating front-person. She commands the stage with ease, delighting the audience, and handing vocal duties over during Misery Business to a handful of elated fans plucked from the audience. Whether considered pop or rock, Paramore have managed to forge a sound, and an atmosphere all their own.
Acknowledging the difficult times we currently live in, Hayley affirms the unifying power of music. For Paramore, that power runs throughout each of their tracks, and in their graceful stage presence. They’ve mastered the perfect blend of vulnerability and self-assurance, and have the whole of the beautiful London venue with them. We. Are. Paramore.