A cold, foggy Friday evening in Manchester with traffic wasn't anything to write home about either meant that I arrived at the MEN towards the later stages of the set from opening support act, Fun. My sincere apologies to Fun. I am sure our paths will cross in the future.
Promptly we move on to the second special guests of the night. A surprise to many that chart topping international new boy B.o.B was given the nod on such a highly anticipated tour. The North Carolina producer-come-artist has achieved great success this year following the release of his debut album "The Adventures of Bobby Ray". Unfortunately for B.o.B, the live aspect of his game needs some attention.
A sombre, lacklustre approach and delivery from the multi-award winning hip-hop artist. Rarely does he address the audience, and rarely does he show any signs conviction. The performance lifted when singles "Nothing on You" and "Magic" hit the audiences ears. B.o.B and the band came to life and showed glimpses of what could be, but sadly for him, his vocal talents are questionable too. There is no doubting the man's ability to write and deliver intriguing and intellectual raps and bars. However, his singing voice leaves much to be desired and at times is damaging to the set.
The majority of tonight's audience were crying out to hear his second single "Airplanes" and by the end of his set, only Airplanes. The single features Paramore vocalist Hayley Williams, and the introduction of the song is enough to wake the audience and send them into Hayley hysteria. Overall, the set was not strong enough and you get the feeling B.o.B and his crew consciously knew this. Keep working mr B.o.B and given time and a few more chart hits, your live performance could be something special.
The anticipation for tonight's headliners is astounding though, and to give them credit, Paramore do not leave the audience waiting long before they hit the stage. After a short guitar based intro the band blast into hit single "Ignorance" and the audience lift off with them.
Hayley demonstrates impressive show(wo)manship from the off and delivering a note perfect performance... and it doesn't stop there! This woman is a machine. The energy and vocal ability song after song is both outstanding and baffling. It carries this band into a new dimension. Unfortunately, the rest of the band (Josh Farro, guitar) (Taylor York, guitar) (Jeremy Davis, bass) (Zac Farro, drums) do not share her abilities to command the stage with such prowess.
Hayley was born to entertain and on tonight's evidence she does it so effectively and intelligently. This audience hang off her every word and move. Effortlessly and professionally she carries herself and the band through the set.
Initially, I questioned the decision of Paramore introducing a third guitarist/percussionist/keyboardist… I tip my hat, it is a move which is certainly paying off. The guitar harmonies sound balanced and the overall sound of the band is that much fuller. The "Riot" era songs go down a storm and the set is comprised with hit singles and album favourites, as you would expect. The songs from the new album, "Brand New Eyes", do not share the same energy and delivery as those off Riot and debut album "All We Know Is Failing". A sure sign that this band are moving away from the high tempo, power pop genre that built and catapulted their career only 6 years ago.
Another concern was that they introduced the acoustic section too early on into the set - a brave decision to do so - but it worked, with thanks to Hayley and her ability to captivate her audience. This highlights the confidence that this band are oozing right now; With Hayley at the helm, it appears they can do no wrong.
In many ways tonight's performance could have been described as the Hayley Williams show. You would not be too far wrong. I believe the next release will be a solo album while this star entertainer takes a bite of the cheery and keeps it all to herself. A good nights work for Miss Williams and her backing band...
Words - Nick Taylor
Tagged in Paramore