Paramore Rock Hayley Williams' Voice Away at Cali Tour Launch

September 30, 2009 12:43 PM ET

Last night Paramore kicked off a month-long North American tour at the Fox Theater in Pomona, California, and though most of the band's fans already knew that Hayley Williams had gone blonde thanks to a performance Monday on The Tonight Show, the formerly flame-haired frontwoman had another surprise up her sleeve: She'd lost her voice.

"I got sick a week ago, and I just wanna apologize to everybody — even if you think I sound cool and tough," the 20-year-old singer announced with a rasp near the end of the hour-long show. "I guess it wouldn't be a Paramore tour without Hayley getting sick."

In actuality, Williams sounded fine at the Fox, where she and her bandmates (including newly permanent guitarist Taylor York) celebrated yesterday's release of Brand New Eyes with a typically action-packed set that mixed new songs with material from Paramore's first two albums, as well as "Decode," the band's goth-punk hit from last year's Twilight soundtrack. (Before Paramore took the stage, the capacity crowd squealed in delight when Muse's "Supermassive Black Hole," also featured in Twilight, cropped up on the between-bands mix.) "Ignorance," Brand New Eyes' lead single, thrummed with an under-pressure energy, while guitarist Josh Farro gave "That's What You Get" a stuttered dance-rock groove. Later, Williams belted "Looking Up" with such force that it made the song's self-referential claim — "We're just getting started!" — seem believable for once.

Even so, when the group appeared for their encore, Williams was nowhere to be found. Farro reported sheepishly that the singer was backstage, her voice "completely shot," then made a request he acknowledged was pretty strange: If they played the music to "Misery Business," would we mind handling the vocals? "Sing so Hayley can hear you," Farro added. "She's really upset and feels like she's letting you guys down." Consider it a testament to the intense devotion of Paramore's fans that no one in Pomona seemed to mind the imposition at all.

Set List:
"I Caught Myself"
"That's What You Get"
"Looking Up"
"Turn It Off"
"Where the Lines Overlap"
"Misery Business"

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