Marching on stage to be met with either harsh ignorance or adoring adulation from the audience, Eliza and The Bear is a band handpicked by Paramore to open the night. Playing before a crowd of hundreds with triumphant hope and optimism, their music comes with many recognisable tones of recently successful bands like Fun and Mumford and Sons whilst incorporating the more optimistic tones of the headlining act, not far from the pop punk attitude with a reminiscent feeling of Dashboard Confessional but in a much more upbeat way. Whilst the band do represent an electric version of so many faux-folk bands that have come before, they present little substance or gravitas in the face of their stiff competition.
The famous voice and writer of Icona Pop’s “I Love It”, Charli XCX is the newest in a long line of new outspoken female artists. Where so many before her have succeeded with great penmanship backed up by fantastic producers, Charli’s dance-oriented sound is fronted by lacklustre and monotone vocals. With a timid and acceptable ‘dubstep’ sound matched by a sugary pop attitude, it all seems rather fake. The attitude of a famous-by-luck starlet is matched by her clear annoyance of the lack of interest in her act, until of course she launches into her astronomically famous collaboration track which has everyone reliving the summer just gone. Possibly an artist born of a one hit wonder and probably should stay that way.
Paramore are a strange beast of a band. Notoriously fronted by the iconic Hayley Williams and associated with the pop punk revival, the band has always been plagued by the tumultuous relationships that come with being a young act. Williams was signed to Atlantic Records at 14 as a solo act and Paramore was the band that came of it, growing an incredibly strong fan base from grassroots beginnings. Now that the band is at its height, they seem on the precipice of a new direction but who are doing so whilst struggling with their young audience. Angry, indignant, and far from the teenager pop rock that defined them so well in the past, their latest album (self-titled) smarts of the split between the current band and the Farro brothers who were the main musical force for the previous three albums.
The past hits are tinged with a sense of new malice and grit whilst the newer songs dart between the optimistic and the downright happy. The dirt present shows a longing to break free of the genre box they’ve been put in. As the band have grown however, so has their audience and the band should be willing to accept that they’re ready to hear something new. Live, the act has lost something with strong songs being put over weakly, far removed from the band that played the same venue a couple of years previously. Williams relies on the audience for too many refrains and there seems to be a confused sense of purpose with the three original artists out front and the three session musicians behind. Whilst Paramore may be a group lost in a myriad of confusion, but putting it through well on their record, at least they’re not perpetuating the lie that they’re a band – well, at least that’s how it feels.