Paramore Live @ Cardiff International Arena 15th April 2023

Paramore - Cardiff - 2023 UK Tour by Zachary Gray

Any time you attend a Paramore show, you know you’re in for a treat. This is a band with an exceptionally high bar; that some how they always exceed above and beyond. It’s been five years since the trio graced UK shores, and just over that since we received new music; but as ever, it was all worth the wait to see Hayley Williams, Zac Farro, and Taylor York take to the stage once more.

Opening up the evening, Rozi Plain (5/10) delivered some incredibly smooth and Lo-Fi sounds. It was really easy to understand why Paramore loved and picked this band to support their tour with some moments that had a similar vibe to Paramore’s most recent album, This Is Why. That being said, the tracks all felt a little too slow and almost all blended in together. In their own right, Rozi Plain are absolutely going places. As an opening act for a stacked and energetic evening, they just fell that little bit flat and short.

As the second support, Bloc Party (7/10) took to the stage with immediate shift in energy. For many, this was a real crowd divider. Some just too young to really recognise, some fans just not phased, and the handful of people that were thrilled to be seeing Bloc Party and Paramore in the same evening. The whole band came on stage with a great vibe and you could tell they were excited to get stuck into performing. With super smooth frontman Kele Okere walking on stage, there was a confidence they would get your heart pumping and ready to dance the night away. The London legends gave a great show for all kinds of fans, even those who are more causal listeners. It was effortless to get stuck in and enjoy the tracks; even if you didn’t know all the words. When more well known singles such as Banquet, This Modern Love, and Helicopter, started a huge shift could be felt with everyone having their “I know this one!” moment. As a super casual listener with only a few tracks in their playlists, it was still a real joy to catch them live for the first time…even with my favourite Bloc Party track not making the cut.

Coming to our headliners, Paramore (10/10) the atmosphere in the room was electric and completely unmatched. You could so easily sense just how much this moment meant to so many people to be seeing such a beautiful band live again. If it’s your first show or your tenth, the excitement never fades. With the usuals of a visual and atmospheric backing track to walk on stage to, the entirety of Cardiff could have likely heard the roar of cheers. Everything about how the band walked on stage showed just how thrilled Paramore were to be back with their UK family. As always highlighted by Hayley Williams, it’s a band we’ve grown up with alongside one another. Even at the biggest of venues, it always feels so personal and intimate that this is a band that truly cares about you, and sees you as one of them.

Photo Credit: Zachary Gray

Kicking things off You First came in with a punch. A true banger from the most recent album, it would’ve been a hard job to pick another opener that got people warmed up for a stacked evening. With a fierce energy that gradually mellows out and shows off Hayley Williams vocal range at its best, it sounded even better live.

With its addictive lyrics, attendees were barely given a second to catch their breath before getting ready to sing along to The News. With this track especially, you could tell everyone in the room had been counting the seconds to hear This Is Why tracks live for the first time.

Throughout the evening, Paramore delivered a perfect mixture of all albums, every song within the set list had special meaning to at least one person in the crowd; something that once again brought home how important this once in a generation band is to so many people.

Giving us some tracks from After Laughter, Hard Times and Caught in the Middle were incredible to keep in the set, even more so with the perfect Hard Times mash ups of “Born Under Punches” and “Heart of Glass.”

Going into the self-titled era, Ain’t It Fun had everyone in the room dancing around and singing along; another incredibly fun song that leaves you without a care in the world while you’re caught up in the moment.

Photo Credit: Zachary Gray

For the dedicated romantic fans, Liar going into Crystal Clear had everyone in the room in love with love. These two hauntingly beautiful songs back to back created a hugely intimate feeling within the room. Showing off such a personal side to both the band, and Hayley Williams’ solo project; it’s always a pleasure seeing the different creative outlets alongside one another. If the tracks weren’t enough to make you fall in love with love, then the incredibly beautiful and candid moment between Hayley and Taylor certainly made that happen.

Following on, Hayley Williams took to the stage solo and talked us through her serenade; all leading to a cover of What Can You Say (Adrianne Lenke.) Despite facing technical issues, this was one of many beautiful moments of the show, with the entire venue cheering her on and having her back, Hayley got through it in the end, but on her orders, we wont speak about it ever again.

Photo Credit Zachary Gray

Continuing on an emotion driven theme, Last Hope, made sure there wasn’t a dry eye left in the arena. One of the most gorgeous song on recording, it sends even more chills down your spine listening to it live. Followed directly after, I Caught Myself, gave us a perfect throw back. A song that builds throughout and filled to the brim with emotion, it’s simply a must to sing along with your entire being; and that’s just what Cardiff did.

One thing that was hugely consistent throughout the set was a vibe of just having the most fun possible and giving it your all in a relatively short space of time. Rose-Coloured Boy also kept its After Laughter mash up by mixing in “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “Genius of Love.” Two incredibly funky songs from an incredibly funky album cycle.

What’s great about Paramore shows is the inclusion of their solo projects so perfectly worked into the set. With Hayley having performed a solo project track earlier in the show, all eyes turned to Zac Farro and the genius of Half-Noise. Giving us an exclusive play of forthcoming track Baby, everyone got their groove on to show their love and support.

With such an incredible and extensive back catalog, picking songs for the set must have been no easy task. With so many bangers and fan favourites to select from, if we listed everything we wanted, Paramore would be playing for hours and hours. Even with that thought in mind, Hayley, Taylor, and Zac delighted fans by giving All I Wanted its first EVER UK live performance. With a cheer so loud it could leave you hard of hearing; it’s was a clear winning decision. As to be expected, it was a flawless 3 minutes and 44 seconds of perfection that will stay with us forever.

Drawing the night to an end, one of the most iconic moments of any Paramore show, Misery Business. Declaring how hard it always is to just chose one person for that life changing moment, Cardiff had to fans join on stage to smash that once in a life time experience.

Closing the set before the encore, Crave was the perfect choice. A gorgeous song, and one so appropriate that after this show you’re left wanting to do it all again and re live every second. It was one of the stand out tracks on the album recording, but hearing it live just elevated it to an entirely new level.

Returning to the stage for an encore, moments of silence were short lived when the intro to The Only Exception began. Paramore have so many incredible tracks and fan favourites, but this one is up there as an all time classic and absolute thrill to hear live. With everyone singing their hearts out, the love and adoration for this band was unmistakeable.

With such a phenomenal evening, a perfect closing track is needed, and title track This Is Why did just that. Once again, it felt like one of those tracks just elevated to a whole new level performed live, and like it was always designed to be that way. With it being near impossible to see anyone not jumping and singing along, it was the perfect reason to leave the house for this once in a generation.

Forever delivering a mind blowing performance with phenomenal instrumentals and vocals, seeing Paramore is a live changing and cathartic experience. This album cycle and tour has shown Paramore in their strongest and happiest form.

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