There’s nothing like sacrificing twelve pounds of your hard-earned money for a poor man’s Five Guy’s with lukewarm fries, juggling your meal through a sea of twelve-year olds, whilst letting your little emo heart get heavy in preparation for a potential trip down memory lane. Birmingham’s powerhouse venue, the ever-changing Genting Arena, recently played host to America’s pop-punkers-turned-synth-poppers Paramore halfway through their creatively-named Tour Three in support of last year’s career-departing sonically-vibrant walking-juxtaposition After Laughter. Swimming around the sea of twelve year olds and their parents, however, are hordes of twenty-something one-time emo’s, myself included, pining for a masterclass in the business of misery.

For a band constantly on the brink of breakup, amidst never-ending personnel changes, in-house fighting, and the desire to simply put everything down and be an everyday human being, Paramore play as if they’re having the time of their lives, and they sure look like it too. From the opening salvo of After Laughter’s lead-single Hard Times, Paramore’s focal point, Hayley Williams darts, dances, and dives around the stage like a kid in a candy shop, keeping words to a minimal and keeping the good vibes to a maximum.

With Zac Farro firmly back behind the kit, an early serving of the now-classic Ignorance switches the pacing of the gig in an instant, from laid-back dad-dancing to chaotic jumping and rip-roaring sing-alongs. With a crowd eating firmly out of your hands like you’re the forbidden fruit of Eden, your next move would surely be one of similar territory, you’d make a play of throwing out another classic, keeping the pace at a post-speed limit level? Paramore, forever changing the goalpost, don’t rip up the rulebook as much as completely rewrite it, throwing one of the evening’s many curveballs by dishing out the bubble-gum deliciousness of ‘Still Into You’ – a heart-warming crowd-chanting arms-swaying ode to a love worth fighting for, which is all the more humorous when ironically paired with ‘Forgiveness’ – one of After Laughter’s gruelling grinds on love gone wrong.

The pace-switching is a put-off, the Achilles heel of an otherwise spectacular set from a band who have yet again grown in both their musical ability and stage presence. There were moments where this set could’ve benefitted from smarter choices, perhaps cutting some of the set’s unnecessary fat – we’re looking at the distorted-emo of No Friend, the Zac Farro-led HalfNoise-cover French Class, and the Twilight sound-tracked I Caught Myself – and bulking up on more bangers such as the anti-ballad The Only Exception; old-school belters by way of Emergency, Pressure, or For A Pessimist; or perhaps even an airing of the superior Twilight piece, Decode.

However, in a set dominated confidently by After Laughter’s choice cuts – recent single Fake Happy forcing the lungs of everybody in the arena to intake more air for a choir-like sing-along – the sparse and sporadic helpings of noughties-era Paramore allow the band to showcase the heavier depths of their sound, bolstering the brighter moments that After Laughter brings.

Taylor York and Zac Farro, for the most part, take a backseat in this cabaret, allowing Hayley Williams to strut her stuff and speak her mind in a handful of moments, carefully selected and beautifully handled. Having been a part of Paramore since she was a teenager, Williams has grown with the fans as much as the fans have grown with her, and you can believe her with best friend-level trust that she’s as grateful for the connection they have with their fans as she says she is. The show’s superiority is lifted by the glaring realisation that for a band who just put out a record heavy on living with depression, and its effects on day-to-day life, as well as being the heart and soul of a global touring band, they really are having the time of their life playing these songs.

Complimenting their colourful palette of pleasuring tunes was their near-hypnotising lighting rig, a fantasy-concoction of swirling visuals, neon lights, and ever-changing colour-schemes in the shape of a several-section circular behemoth. When the choruses are mammoth, the production must match, and Paramore deliver, firing visually as well as aurally, on all cylinders.

Dancing nigh-on-endlessly to After Laughter’s fan-favourite gem Rose-Colored Boy, Paramore bow out of Birmingham in style, leaving an adorning crowd lusting for more. They may have separated themselves from the sounds of old, but they are by no means weaker; if anything, Paramore’s funky fresh vibes have sent them ever further into the superstar stratosphere.

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