LIVE REVIEW + PHOTOS: Paramore in Gilford, NH 06.20.18

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Life is hard. There’s really no better way to put it, life is just really hard. It is impossible to be completely prepared for everything life will throw at you, no matter how hard you try. All of the struggles and failures and hardships we face on this journey shape us into who we are. Paramore are no strangers to this. Despite the number one singles and even a Grammy win, the band are still humans living a very real, and hard, life. They come clean about their struggles in their 5th studio album After Laughter, creating the mantra “cry hard, dance harder” to go along with it. And that’s exactly what fans did Wednesday night at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford, NH.

The “After Laughter Summer Tour” brought along Soccer Mommy and Foster the People for support. Soccer Mommy were first to take the stage, and although a talented group of musicians, they were underwhelming. The band were stagnant at their mic stands and pedal boards for the entire set. Especially as Paramore are touring in support of such a rhythmic, new-wave album, their openers should be expected to create that same fun, dance vibe. Soccer Mommy would make much more sense on a smaller-scale DIY tour with artists like Snail Mail, Japanese Breakfast, or Mitski.

Foster the People were next and truly got the party started. With a neon “Sacred Hearts Club” sign (from their 2017 studio album) glowing behind them, the Los Angeles indie-pop trio quickly got the crowd off their feet and dancing. With a set evenly split among their three studio releases, it was clear what the crowd wanted to hear. The enthusiasm for “Pumped Up Kicks” was unrivaled, and the crowd almost drowned out Mark Foster’s vocals. The real surprise of the set came in the form of a fantastic Ramones cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop”. From start to finish Foster the People gave us a perfect warm-up dance party, just a taste of what was to come.

As the last streams of natural lighting pierced through the abundant trees around the amphitheater, the stage lights dimmed and the crowd roared. Paramore took the stage, wasting no time getting right into “Grudges”. Front-woman Hayley Williams, clad in her iconic glitter tears and a fuchsia pantsuit, had the energy of a wild gazelle on stage, frolicking back and forth with an occasional headband or over-the-head high kick (seriously, this girl is LIMBER). Williams fully lived up to her reputation as one of the most energetic and engaging performers of this generation, and with 10+ years of experience on the road, she does all of this while still delivering top-notch, goose bump-inducing vocals. High notes and elongated runs are no match for this all-powerful woman, as she completes them with ease as she whips around her glistening platinum blonde lock, striped with hot pink from her own hair dye line.

Williams speaks intermittently, expressing the hardships she and her bandmates have faced along the years and how they have culminated into their music. While on the outside After Laughter is a bright, shimmering dance album, the closer you look the darker it becomes and the more pain you can feel coming from her words. Nowhere is this more prevalent than “26”, which the band paired with equally tear-jerking “Misguided Ghosts” for a mini acoustic set mid-show. But in true After Laughter era fashion, the group sprinkled in a cover too. While not as airy as their rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”, their cover of Drake’s “Passionfruit” shows the true versatility of the band and also shines a light on William’s vocal control.

Not ones to break tradition, Williams called on multiple fans to help her on stage for “Misery Business”. In addition to the emo anthem, Paramore included “Ignorance” and “That’s What You Get” in their setlist as well. A revamped version of “Crushcrushcrush”, featuring a whole lot of bongos, was an unexpected treat that fit seamlessly into the After Laughter-heavy set. And again following tradition, Paramore did not shy away from their usual jam session. In previous tours its found in the form of “Miracle Outro” or “Future”; this tour it comes in “No Friend”. With almost all vocals stripped away, guitarist Taylor York shreds his heart out while the stage lights glow ominously red. Williams drops to her knees, muttering words into a megaphone that become louder as the song progresses. Behind her, drummer Zac Farro slams away at his kit, pumping the beat forward. These moments on stage offer the band at their most vulnerable, allowing the fans a look at what it is like to become truly lost in the music. It is unapologetically Paramore.

Life is hard. Even forming a world-renowned, chart-topping, Grammy-winning band does not eliminate this. Each and every person faces their own struggles, and for one night Paramore brought a group of people together for a euphoric release of whatever they were holding onto. They cried hard and danced even harder as the weight of life’s pressures was lifted off of their shoulders for 90 minutes.

To purchase or stream Paramore’s new studio album After Laughter by click HERE.

To purchase tickets to see Paramore live in concert click HERE.

Photos: Paramore, Foster the People, Soccer Mommy @ Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford, NH 06.20.18

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