Paramore released their well-received fifth studio album, After Laughter, last Spring. The album was also included on several Best Album of the Year lists in 2017, and even hit number one on Billboard’s U.S. Top Alternative Albums chart. The band have been touring solidly since the release, and recently announced they would be embarking on a new run of North American headlining dates this summer with Foster the People in support. The tour is being dubbed the “After Laughter Summer Tour (Tour 5),” and kicked off June 12th in St. Augustine, FL. We caught the tour on its third show, when it stopped at a packed Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh NC.
Foster The People, who had been tapped to support Paramore for the majority of the tour were unavailable for the show in Raleigh, so opening the evening fell to Soccer Mommy, the performance moniker of 20-year old Nashville-based Sophie Allison. Soccer Mommy has been steadily building an audience and buzz based around her self-assured introspective second album, Clean, which was released in March. Stepping up to the large stage and even larger crowd in Raleigh didn’t seem to phase the confident Allison and her bandmates. They delivered a well-received set of chilled out shoegaze tinted indie-pop. Despite the more reserved lo-fi leanings, Soccer Mommy won over the crowd and provided a solid start to the evening.
After a short break, the house lights dropped and the anxious crowd roared in anticipation as Paramore, led by the energetic Hayley Williams, took the stage and set the pace for the evening with the bouncy synth-driven “Grudges” from After Laughter. It was immediately apparent that the current incarnation of Paramore has evolved beyond its roots as an emo flavored pop-punk band. The Paramore that released After Laughter and hit the stage in Raleigh is a glossier more straightforward power-pop outfit. The band have had quite a few lineup changes over the years, and are currently a trio consisting of guitarist Taylor York, founding member and drummer Zac Farro, and the ever-present fellow founder and frontwoman, Hayley Williams. The band kept the party vibe as they reached back to their 2013 self-titled album for “Still Into You” followed by another new track, “Rose-Colored Boy.” Throughout the performance, Hayley Williams remained the center of attention. She seemed to be in constant motion, whether dancing across the stage, high-kicking, leaning out over the edge of the stage to get that tiny bit closer to the fans , or dropping to her knees to emphasize the emotion in a song, the woman was a human Energizer Bunny.
The set was split into 4 distinct parts, the opening, an acoustic break, a second set, and an encore. The band left the stage briefly between each portion of the show, allowing Hayley to catch her breath and recharge her hard-working voice. The setlist centered around the new album, but also included fan favorites pulled from across the band’s catalog. They even threw in their cover of “Passionfruit” by Drake, as well as a song by HalfNoise, the side project from their drummer Zac Farro.
Whether playing bouncy highly-sheened new songs from After Laughter, or digging into the past for some of the more angsty fan favorites, Paramore never lost their audience or their momentum. By the time Paramore ended their three-song encore with “Hard Times,” it was clear the audience had gotten everything they hoped for and more.
Paramore + Soccer Mommy @ Red Hat Amphitheater – June 15th 2018