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Paramore At Madison Square Garden, Tuesday, May 30th, 2023, Reviewed

You can tell when a concert means a whole boatload to the band playing, especially when parents are in attendance. I once saw Adam Levine introduce his parents on the last day of a tour, it clearly meant a lot to him. And last night, Hayley Williams did everything except a group hug to prove how important the gig was to her. Amazingly, This Is Why has been out only three months and the concert was a return to Madison Square Garden last night after ten years. Paramore didn’t sell out that night ten years ago (“nearly”) but they sold out two nights in succession st MSG (it concludes tonight) and the place was packed out. The vibe enticing with an audience overwhelmed and dancing all night long, even my close friend True GrOove CEO Tomas Doncker enthralled by the guitar attack and Hayley in the middle of all this action singing her heart out. They added twenty minutes to their usual set length.

The audience and Doncker thought it was a great (He puts them alongside two other Fueled By Ramen guitar band, Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco, overwhelmed by mere). Tomas responded so well to the way the band played different guitar parts and pieced them seamlessly together; how analog it all was, no backing tapes, live music performed live. I thought they were good, not great. They don’t have the songs. At MetLife last week Taylor Swift was indeed a great performing an overweight set bloated, good not great, Hayley had a slimmer, less overwhelmed, set that went on for two hours, but five albums into their career they have only two masterpieces, both of which they held onto for the encores.

The problem with Paramore is that for all Hayley’s badassness, in the video above you will see how she stopped a fight mid-concert, her four octave soprano is trilling and not a pretty thing at all, and really, if Hayley is great where does that leave, say, Patty Smyth? I’ll tell ya, it leaves her as the reincarnation of Aretha Franklin. Paramore are a good band, honestly, Tomas is quite right. But they are too willy nilly, too not what they are.

When I saw Paramore ten years ago (here) I thought they were great, that was the post-Zac Farro break up because deeply Christian Hayley is against just about everything, no alcohol, no drugs, certainly no fucking around (compare it to Swift, always knocking back wine and giving serial monogamy a good name). Who wants to be ordered around by a twenty-four year old pixie? Actually, come to think of it…

Two opening acts but I missed the first one and wasn’t all that thrilled by the post-punk, 00s inspired Bloc Party (more guitars, folks). Paramore blasted into the set and moving and moving, connecting and disconnecting and really didn’t stop till “Decode” (their Goth track off the Twilight soundtracks) and then she slid for awhile, the next two songs included one of their worst tracks, “Big Man, Little Dignity”, and then they went to the B stage, nothing special, just up from the main stage, and really, really sucked. It was the first time all night that the audience sat down as she sang “Crystal Clear” off her unlistenable solo album.

Paramore encored with two great songs, “Still Into You” -which she dedicated to the band itself (sweet right?) and the best song they’ve released since then, “This Is Why”. I don’t much care for the new album so while Tomas could get his freak on with “The News”, all I could do was nod, appreciatively but not overwhelmed, though the “one for the money, two for the show” was prime. We got their breakthrough hit “Misery Business” late in the evening – a song I saw em perform in 2008 at Summerstage, and we didn’t get “For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic” (another song I saw em perform at Summerstage) and are the worse for the loss.

The biggest pleasure was hearing Hayley snarl “Madison Square Garden,” at the two morons fighting, “Get the fuck outta here”. That and watching my best friend loving every second. And while Tomas and I disagreed vehemently about the set, his pleasure made the evening.

Grade: B

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