As the first evening of Reading festival 2014 begins to fade, it’s time for the first of tonight’s dual headline acts- Paramore. Having released their sixth album last year, the band seem to have passed their Reading rite of passage, and now seem a pretty great choice for the top spot.
The crowd floods into the main arena as the first twang of a guitar reverberates across the site. It’s clear even from set opener, ‘I’m Into You’ that Paramore are everything a Reading headliner needs to be- they were built for this. With Hayley Williams throwing herself around the gigantic stage, limbs flailing, blue hair swaying furiously to the beat, and with over the top confetti explosions left right and centre, Paramore deliver excitement, drama and pure balls to the headline performance.
The band soon tear into an explosive ‘Ignorance’ during which the entire sound system shorts out, and the stadium is left silent, while Paramore, blissfully unaware, continue to play through as the on-stage monitors are still blaring. No amount of boos and arm waving give them the hint. The sound is recovered after a minute or so of silence and the band continue on, still unaware of what has just happened.
Having undergone several lineup changes within the last few years, there is a slightly unusual stage layout with the three founding members, Williams, Jeremy Davis (bass) and Taylor York (guitar) at centre stage, while the rest of the band- the touring and recording musicians- play rather statically atop a huge ‘PARAMORE’ light-up platform. All the while, below, the three members sprint from end to end, York and Davis leapfrogging from each other’s backs.
Williams kindly advises the crowd that “we’re covering all the albums tonight,” before erupting into the band’s anthemic hit, ‘Misery Business’ during which a stage-happy fan dressed as a dinosaur is hauled on stage to sing the song out with Williams.
As the band tear through an eclectic mix of oldies and new material, the sound once again disappears and the crowd are left with silence. When the band catch on, this is where they really prove themselves. With only one working microphone and an achingly long silence to fill, Williams leads a Mexican wave and poses for pictures before leading an astoundingly beautiful acapella rendition of ‘The Only Exception’. This kind of situation is a frontman’s worst nightmare and Williams turns it into a moment none of the audience will forget.
A festival as monumentally significant and as Reading, the headliners have their metal well and truly tested. In Paramore’s case, if ever there was any doubt over their headline capabilities, they are now but a laughable memory. With all the glitz and showmanship you’d want to top off your Friday night at Reading festival, Paramore have officially pulled off something special.