LIVE: Paramore @ Usher Hall, Edinburgh

By Kathryn Black

“For all I know, the best is over and the worst is yet to come,” Hayley Williams sings, laying her cards on the table from the start of opener ‘Told You So’. The synth-laden, ‘80s dance-along track fills the Usher Hall; a pop-driven sound in contrast with the classical theatre it’s performed in. But isn’t that what Paramore is all about? Genres blur and different sounds come together; nothing’s out of bounds to produce a spectacle, something different, something inspirational.

That inspiration is seen in the fans who queued up from the night before to ensure a spot at the front, in those who have watched the band throughout the years and grown up alongside them, and on the faces of kids brought along by their parents – a new generation of fans.

Back-to-back bangers ‘That’s What You Get’ and ‘Brick By Boring Brick’ serve as a reminder that, while Paramore are ready to move forward, they haven’t forgotten about the path that brought them here. For one of the biggest stars in the world, Hayley Williams remains humble and gracious throughout and – when she does take a moment to speak to the fans – thanks them for staying with the band on this journey, in all its incarnations.

The strength and solidarity of the Paramore family shows itself both in the fragility of ‘Hate To See Your Heart Break’, sparking a sentimental singalong, and ‘Misery Business’, for which super fan Eleanor and Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry are brought on to the stage. It’s a moment in which the magic of Paramore shines and the community spirit is felt in waves when the crowd cheers for their fellow fan’s moment in the spotlight, and for a friendship between two incredibly talented women.

While the older tracks receive a mixed reaction – there are several confused-looking faces for 2009’s ‘Turn It Off’ and ‘Playing God’ – songs from ‘After Laughter’ are met with pure joy and excitement. From the pop perfection of ‘Rose-Colored Boy’ to the No Doubt-inspired ‘Caught In The Middle’ and laid back sound of ‘Forgiveness’, the band’s commitment to their new direction has got fans right on board with them. In among the excitement, ‘Fake Happy’ is a reminder of the darker material behind the upbeat melodies and the crowd are strongly united as they belt out every word, taking comfort in the solidarity.

The ups and downs Paramore has had are public knowledge, but their willingness to be open about it and their determination to continue has humanised an otherwise unreachable band. It’s not all seriousness though, as Zac Farro takes centre stage for a band version of HalfNoise’s ‘Scooby’s In The Back’ and it seems as though everyone on stage loses themselves in the moment. ‘Hard Times’ brings the show to a close with a perfect summation of why it is that people love Paramore. There’s no denying that things aren’t perfect, but this group of friends having fun – and the people there to watch them – are close enough.

“Ain’t it fun livin’ in the real world?” With shows like this to watch, it’s really not so bad.