Halfway into Paramore's tour kickoff Friday night in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, Hayley Williams took a breather to reflect on how much things have changed for the band since their last gig here five years ago. Hint: That earlier show wasn't in a big outdoor amphitheater with big black-and-white neon lights flashing "RIOT!" behind them.
"We played the Brewery," she said, and the crowd of about 5,000 roared its approval of her reference to the legendary punk club that is Raleigh's version of New York City's CBGB. "That was it," Williams continued, hand on the hip of her Army-green pants. "That was the beginning, and here we are today."
There they were, indeed, at the beginning of the Honda Civic Tour — all flaming red hair, showering pyrotechnics, frenzied rock-star moves, passionate singalongs with the audience, and a finely balanced mix of stuttering rockers and sweet ballads.
Dressed in a yellow sleeveless top emblazoned with the album title Brand New Eyes in black magic-marker letters, Williams shook off the oppressive heat. Temperatures had reached above 100 degrees during afternoon sets from Swedish rockers Kadawatha, emo-punkers New Found Glory and excellent Canadian duo Tegan and Sara, and cooled down only slightly for Paramore's performance. Throughout the band's 90-minute set, Williams stalked the stage, shaking sweat from her hair and constantly jutting her metallic red microphone into the crowd for their responses.
And respond, they did. On opening song "Misery Business," the first several rows of mostly girls in their teens and twenties shouted like an amen chorus to the refrain, "Whoa, I never meant to brag, but I got him where I want him now." They followed suit on nearly every other song, furiously jumping up and down during the skank-worthy "Born for This," singing along to "We want the airwaves back," and gently swaying, arm-in-arm, to Williams' pensive non-love love song, "The Only Exception": "That was the day I decided I'd never sing of love if it does not exist — but darling you are the only exception."
The crowd gave an extra load road to "Decode," which helped the band pick up a slew of new fans via the Twilight soundtrack. "I am freaking out," said 12-year-old Annecy Kenny during the band's three-song acoustic set which they performed, MTV Unplugged-like, on a big orange couch in center stage. Kenny has been a fan since she discovered Paramore in elementary school. "I've been wanting my mom to bring me to see them for the last five years," she said. Did she get what she bargained for? Her raised eyebrows said it all: Duh.
"Born For This"
"That's What You Get"
"The Only Exception"
"When It Rains"
"Where The Lines Overlap"
"Let the Flames Begin"
"Brick by Boring Brick"