There was no build-up of any suspense, no prolonged intro. Ethereal quiet “ooohs” came on, 4 drumstick beats followed, then BAM – Paramore launches head-long into the opening track, “Now”. The stadium went berserk. Paramore is f**king back.
Personally, there were many reasons for me not to go to The Return of Paramore, Live in KL 2013. Firstly, I’m no longer young. My partial-OKU status, what with my destroyed spine disc, meant I was far from qualified for rock-zone-physicality. Even more, past experiences remind me that I no longer am fit to, for example, fly to Singapore, line up at 12pm, swallowed in hordes of teenage punks submerged in their iPhones, basking under sunshine & rain for a day while awaiting entry till 7pm, then standing, jumping, then getting compressed, violated, pushed & tumbled down by kiasu, over-enthusiastic rock-zone-mosh-pitter-wannabe-monkeys.
But there were reasons to go also. Yes, they are my utmost favourite band, that’s a given. The last time I saw them live was in Singapore in March 2010, & I missed their October 2010 show on our own soil because I was offshore. The bonus this time was that it was held in an indoor stadium, so environmental concerns are removed from the equation. The sound wouldn’t be bastardized too. I was helped by the fact that my favourite woman in the world loved me so much she bought us tickets for the seating zones where fat asses, not-so-loaded kids, free-loaders & OKUs are preferred. In addition, I needed to get out of this whole SNSD-crazed-syndrome, & who better to smack me back to my senses than Paramore?
Most importantly, we had to, for one night, unite & show Paramore that we are still here for them. We had to answer Paramore’s call in their latest single – “if there’s a future, we want it now”. To say the past 2 years have been troubled times for Paramore as a band would be an understatement. The looming vibe & anger that first surfaced & inspired their previous album’s works, Brand New Eyes, finally erupted into a full-blown fiasco that reached its peak when the Farro brothers, so integral to the essence of Paramore from the very beginning, left the band in an emotional fallout. But Hayley, Jeremy & Taylor soldiered on, & judging by the number of us who turned up on February 17th night at Stadium Negara, we are still here for Paramore, & we sure as hell want more.
Then of course, there’s that tiny little reason to rule them all – something that, well…rhymes with Bailey Billions?
Let’s not kid ourselves here. Yes, Paramore is a band. But this confession is coming from the deepest freaking Parawhorish heart of mine – in Hayley Williams, they have the most awesome frontwoman of our generation, & it is her all-round talent, vocal prowess & charisma that sets the band apart.
Yup, that tiny little reason was more than enough to lead yours truly’s veteran ass into Stadium Negara, sitted amongst those kids.
Opening act mewithoutYou from Pennsylvania kick-started the show at just before 8. Okay, truth be told I didn’t really dig their kind of music style, what with all the sing-speaking-screaming vocals & all, but damn their band sound was pretty darn good. They did however seem to play on forever in what was a longer-than-expected set, which was fine, but my ass & lower back were starting to hurt. Then the heavens parted & God answered in the middle of mewithoutYou’s set when a speck of blazing orange-y red hair appeared from backstage to join in out of nowhere. Sweet Mother of God, it’s Hayley! Prancing around & joining in the singing, wrapped in an over-sized sweater & army pants, she could not have been any cuter. She disappeared backstage right after a song. What a tease.
The band said their thank-yous & good-byes, the stage was cleared, lights were lighted-up, then dimmed. This is it.
There was no build up of any suspense, no prolonged intro. Ethereal quiet “ooohs” came on, 4 drumstick beats followed, then BAM – Paramore launches head-long into the opening track, “Now”. The stadium went berserk. Paramore is f**king back.
So there I was in a rock concert, seated down for the very first time in my life. Hands raised, head-banging as much as I physically could to the stunning euphoria that has erupted on stage. The two girls in front of me however could no longer hold themselves. It wasn’t long before they lifted their butts off their seats & started jumping & gambolling wildly (but extremely awkwardly & unsightly too, I might add). Now, afew years earlier I would have not minded it & would probably even outjump them, but that was years ago. As they were blocking the views of myself & the people behind us, I politely tapped on the shoulder of the more-tomboyish-looking lesbian (sorry, I mean girl) & delicately gestured them to sit down. They were visibly surprised & shot me venomous looks that could only mean “Why the f**k are you all sitting down in a bloody Paramore concert.” I completely understood that. Years ago, I would have probably punched this current pathetic version of me in the balls.
Apparently even Hayley agreed because, to much of my own amusement & embarrassment, just a song later she said out loud to the crowd: “I see all you beautiful people sitting comfortably at the back there. & we are all happy & good. But by the end of this if you guys are all still not standing up, then we’re gonna have some real trouble. Yes, it may hurt a little. You guys are going to be sore for a whole week, KL!” (something like that la, as far as I can recall & summarize)
To which tomboy-lesbian-girl perfectly-timed her retort to me: “Hear that, f**ker!”. Oh, to be young & energetic.
I, along with most of those around me still seemed too comfortable, but it became clear it was getting impossible to resist when Hayley hollered out a 2nd invitation to stand up, dance & finger-snap to “Fences”. Screw this, I’m gonna rock out. I spent the rest of the concert standing, head-banging, arms-flapping & jumping (well, okay, jumping is physically a little too far-fetched) like a retarded teenage punk. Yes, for an hour or so, I almost forgot about my back.
I do not know exactly how many songs they sang, probably about 16-18 songs or so. But it was clear Paramore meant (misery!) business, & they were bloody damn in their element. Outstanding moments? Too many. That fiery “Oh, Father” outro at the end of “Let The Flames Begin” that had Hayley singing lying down. The massive singalong during “The Only Exception”, also one of my most cherished memories from their Singapore concert 3 years ago. The epic crowd atmosphere that accompanied “Brick by Boring Brick”, & of course, the closing number, “Misery Business”. The customary Jeremy+Taylor back-flip during “Pressure”. & I absolutely loved the fact that they performed all 4 songs from their last Singles Club album – “Renegade”, “Hello Cold World”, “In The Mourning” & “Monster” – which were all always underrated, brilliant songs. I also loved how “In The Mourning” was delivered acoustically with just Taylor on the guitar accompanying Hayley, as how this song started & was always meant to be compared to the over-produced album version.
I have to say the Farro brothers probably weren’t missed, but Zac’s drumming was probably more impactful. That being said, former Nine Inch Nails & Angels & Airwaves drummer Ilan Rubin did a commendable job on this tour, & I believe he is also the stand-in drummer for the coming album as well. As all good concerts are, by the time the last chorus of “Misery Business” ended (led by invited-onstage-fan Lucy), it all felt too short, but we were left absolutely satisfied. Sure, I would have liked it if they sung their old gems like “My Heart”, “When It Rains”, & “Emergency”. But who am I to complain, when all I feel is an out-pour of gratitude to Paramore for coming back again.
As we walked out of the stadium, I asked my better half of what she thought of Paramore’s awesomeness live, to which she uttered “They really sound exactly the same live & recorded.”
Look, my dearest of all, I love you with all my heart & soul, but this is where you are very very wrong – Paramore, spearheaded by the explosively spectacular Hayley Williams, are one of those rare ones that actually sound better live. They just really need to be experienced live.
With this, thank you thank you thank you thank you Paramore for coming back. & thank you to the tomboy-lesbian-girl too, for inspiring this broken veteran to physical lengths he had no idea he could still reach.
& with that in mind, I think I’m good for 2013. No more concerts, I’m all good.
Unless SNSD decides to drop by of course.