25 Year-Old Me Loves Paramore Just As Much As 14 Year-Old Me Did

Written by Sam Murphy.

All images by Jess Gleeson. Find her on Instagram and online

When Paramore released RIOT! Back in 2007 they were part of a scene whether they wanted to be or not. Punk rock was the genre-du-jour. Fall Out Boy were at their peak, My Chemical Romance were riding the wave of the black parade and Boys Like Girls and The All-American Rejects were in the charts. None of these bands, bar perhaps Fall Out Boy, have made it to 2018 without losing their relevancy, if they made it here intact at all. Paramore, on the other hand, just wrapped up an Australian tour with a setlist that drew half of its songs from their most recent and best album After Laughter. The difference is, Paramore grew up and always looked forward.

It hasn’t been an easy ride for the Hayley Williams-led band. They’ve shed members, considered breaking up and regained members. It’s been public and, at times, messy but they’ve never really attempted to hide any of it. They’ve grown up in front of us, warts and all, and the music has depicted that.

At 25, I saw Paramore for the first time, some 11 years after falling in love with their second, breakthrough album RIOT! At the time, they harnessed that unexplained, pent-up anger that seems completely unjustified in hindsight. It’s an attitude that Williams has too. During the Sydney leg of the tour, their first Australian tour in four years, Williams preceded Misery Business by saying, “So as we play this next song together, I want you to celebrate the fact that we’re growing, and we’re moving forward, and we’re changing.”

"Because people do change, contrary to what 17-year-old Hayley thought," she further said, partly addressing the now controversial lyrics, “you’re just a whore, nothing more, I’m sorry that will never change.”

In 11 years, Paramore have changed a lot. That pop-punk sound has transformed into sunny, ‘80s-inspired pop but they’re still dissecting the moment. After Laughter deals with anxiety with a real-time, sometimes sarcastic honesty.

There was a dancing in the face of misery undertone to their whole live show. The crowd, which ranged from RIOT! Fans to new fans, danced uncontrollably to the perky-yet-anxious Hard Times and screamed the the soaring chorus of Fake Happy. Anxiety for 20-somethings is nothing rare even though sometimes it may feel like it. Williams’ unashamed transparency about it made it feel communal. And despite the drastic changes with the band, that’s always been one of their biggest successes, taking singular emotion and translating it into something far more wide-reaching.

All the news songs sounded instantly iconic. In fact, they could’ve made the entire setlist out of After Laughter and it wouldn’t have felt bare. Told You So was the melodic pop moment, Idle Worship has traces of a pop/punk chorus with huge singalong potential and Forgiveness packs a huge emotional punch, even in front of thousands.

Still, it’s nice to see the band’s growth with the new songs in amongst the old. The breadth of emotion also makes it a more diverse show. The anger of something as furious as Ignorance is juxtaposed beautifully by the giddiness of Still Into You. The gospel breakdown of Ain’t It Fun provided a clear highlight of the night too showing just how deep the soul influence within the band goes.

They closed out the show with Rose-Colored Boy, a fan favourite from After Laughter, aptly demonstrated where Paramore are right now. They’re realists but that doesn’t mean they can’t have fun with it. A song with lyrics as pessimistic as Rose-Colored Boy is wrapped up in island-flavoured riffs that demand dancing. It’s hard to imagine this is Williams’ view of the world everyday but she does a poignant job of capturing a bad day or multiple bad days.

The band still draw out that inner-emo within their early fans but we’ve all grown up with them now. Now, we’ve got bank accounts, relationships and the future to think about and bratty anger just ain’t the emotion of choice anymore. If Paramore kept dishing that up year-after-year, they wouldn’t be touring Australian anymore with a set that relies very little on nostalgia. Instead, they delivered a set that celebrated the people they once were and tackled their current mental space head-on.

If they keep on like this, I’ll still be talking about them in 11 years as a 30-something with a new set of problems to deal with.

All images by Jess Gleeson. Find her on Instagram and online