On Thursday, Paramore came to Ball Arena for a show awash with vibrant color and nostalgia. The band has long provided spaces for inclusion, their music alive in the hearts of those who might feel as if they don’t belong. It’s music that a listener can wrap around themselves like armor and know that everything’s going to be okay. Each person in attendance was there for that reason, to feel the hope that the band promises with each note they play — that even if some days feel dark, beauty, light and color are always waiting just around the corner.
Following powerful performances from young viral sensations The Linda Lindas and British alt-rock band Foals, Paramore hit the stage to huge applause, the band coming out first followed by frontwoman Hayley Williams, who boisterously jumped and skipped her way to the mic.
The show itself spanned the band’s entire discography, highlighting their evolution as artists while remaining unafraid to embrace emo aesthetics. This was immediately evident as the band kicked off the show with “You First” followed by “The News,” both relatively newer songs and featured the first appearance of giant cannons that rained confetti over the crowd. They quickly leaned into the nostalgia and hit the crowd with a joyous “That’s What You Get” that turned the arena into a choir, each fan joining their voices with Hayley’s which created a beautiful feeling of togetherness.
Most of the audience grew up listening to the band, initially discovering them during those awkward and confusing formative days in which a person is still figuring out who they are going to be. Paramore’s helped a lot of young people start to make sense of some of the confusion and let them know that they weren’t alone. There was a feeling of gratitude permeating the crowd that served as a testament to just how powerful and impactful music can be in a person’s life.
The band moved through songs such as “Playing God,” “Rose-Colored Boy” (which featured a small snippet of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston) and “Big Man, Little Dignity” before most of the band left the stage. Williams and the drummer remained as she danced her way over to him and a platform began to rise. They played two songs from this elevated position, “Liar” and “Crystal Clear,” a song from one of Williams’ solo efforts.
The stripped-down format allowed Williams’ powerhouse vocals to really shine and made something abundantly clear: Hayley Williams is the best frontwoman working in modern mainstream rock and roll. In addition to her incredible range, she radiates such warmth from the stage and was constantly letting the crowd know how much she loves them. She was dancing and hugging her band, spinning and laughing, clearly enjoying herself as much as the crowd was. It was infectious and really served to drive home the main messages in much of Paramore’s music.
The platform eventually descended and the rest of the band returned for a funky, rainbow-drenched “Hard Times” that boasted a little tease of Blondie’s “Hearts of Glass.” This half of the show was something special. Sparks rained behind the band, and each member was firing on all cylinders, fully grooving and feeling the music. They slowed it down at one point for a heartfelt “The Only Exception” that had the crowd swaying with their phone lights and lighters held high.
Eventually, Williams asked the crowd if they were ready to get nostalgic and an air of loaded anticipation rose. The crowd didn’t have to wait long before the iconic first riff of “Misery Business” hit each fan right in the heart, sending them back to days of colored skinny jeans and straightened hair.
The crowd went rabid, singing every word at the top of their lungs. During the bridge, Williams began to talk to a fan in the front row who’d been singing every word to every song. She told them “Let’s see what you can do” and brought them on stage. The fan was noticeably emotional, but there was no hint of nerves as they put their arms around Williams and sang the final chorus with love and passion, their life made.
Paramore finished the set with “Ain’t It Fun” and left the stage briefly before returning for a quick but powerful encore. It began with fan favorite “Still Into You” and ended with “This Is Why,” the titular track off their spectacular 2023 release. As the song came to a close the band threw their arms around each other for a quick bow and left the crowd with full hearts and rainbows dancing through their minds. It was a full-circle show for many, myself included. I’m from their hometown of Franklin, Tennesee and it’s pretty powerful seeing how far they’ve come. It shows just how much hope and inspiration the band shares with their music.