By Zach Goins
May 25, 2023
Photo: Zachary Gray
It’s been 10 years since Paramore’s last full arena tour, but you’d never know it after the first night of their North American tour in Charlotte.
“There’s proof that we still got it, baby,” lead singer Hayley Williams flexed to a screaming, sold-out crowd at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center. “Thank you, motherfuckers.”
And Williams was absolutely right.
From her very first note she made it impossible for fans to look away, as the pop-punk band delivered a high-energy blend of tracks from their new album, This Is Why, alongside many hits from their six-album catalog.
Genesis Owusu got the night started with a heavy dose of drums and bass as his hybrid hip-hop and funk performance welcomed fans into the arena. Bathed in red lighting and donning a two-piece red suit, Owusu’s hits like “WUTD” and “Get Inspired” showed off his versatility. Shortly afterwards, English rock band Bloc Party took the stage with a setlist of self-described “bangers.” With nearly 20 years of music to pick from, the post-punk revivalists played a handful of tracks from their latest album, but the biggest hits like “Banquet” and “Helicopter” came from 2005’s debut, Silent Alarm.
As the clock struck 9 p.m., the lights went dark and Williams’ voice echoed through the arena, reading a poem written to her teenage self, written for her friend Elise’s newsletter in April. The band found their marks on stage, and as the videoboards came to life, so did Paramore, opening with “You First” from their six studio album, This Is Why, released in February.
“You First” ended with a bang as the confetti started flowing early in the night and the band jammed on, focusing on tracks from the latest album but sprinkling in plenty of classic fan favorites. “That’s What You Get” from their 2007 album, Riot!, made an early appearance, proving there would be plenty of crowd participation throughout the show as Williams turned the mic over to the audience often.
Williams could teach a masterclass in stage presence, with lessons in charm, crowd participation and, of course, her non-stop dancing. Within seconds, the kicking, stomping, spinning and grooving began and Williams never looked back. With the energy of her performance, it was evident that it was the first stop on her massive 27-date arena tour. It was remarkable she had any breath left to sing– yet she rarely missed a note, even adding unique vocal runs and improvisations to a handful of songs like “Rose-Colored Boy” and “Hard Times.”
After diving back into more recent songs, Williams took to the mic to share the band’s thought process behind selecting the setlist. In 2018 the band retired their breakout hit “Misery Business” from live performances for four-plus years before eventually bringing it back in late 2022. While drummer Zac Farro’s message was simple (“Fuck that, give ‘em the goods!”), Williams shared a message of reclamation, bringing back “Misery Business,” despite any past criticism for using the word “whore” in the lyrics.
In Farro’s words, the goods were absolutely delivered, as Paramore played the classics along with hits like “Ain’t It Fun” and “Still Into You” to close out the night alongside the title track of their latest album, “This Is Why.”
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As much energy as Williams was bringing on stage, Charlotte was giving right back. On multiple occasions, Williams asked her fellow bandmates if they could start every tour in Charlotte, claiming it would be near impossible to top this energy throughout the rest of their tour. After being moved to tears and at a loss for words following “Hard Times,” it was clear Williams wasn’t just sucking up to the crowd– her praise was genuine.
Thank you everyone for your kind words!! This was truly one of my biggest dreams and I can’t believe it finally came true. I’m still processing but wow. @paramore , I love you forever ♥️ pic.twitter.com/57DC2LjDju
— Jerée⁷ ||| sang with her ult bias (@WildSpice87) May 24, 2023
The only moment of the night in which Williams found herself rivaled in the spotlight came in the midst of a longstanding Paramore tradition. For the uninitiated, during the bridge of “Misery Business,” the band traditionally brings a member of the audience onstage for the experience of a lifetime: rocking out alongside Williams and the band. Charlotte’s lucky winner, a young woman named Jerée, was selected courtesy of her poster reading “22nd Try’s the Charm?” After 21 Paramore concerts without being selected, Jerée made the most of her time onstage alongside Williams, showing off dance moves that rivaled Williams’ own
As the first of many shows on their North American tour, what Paramore delivered in Charlotte felt more like a grand finale, but Williams and company are just getting started.
Note To Self (poem by Hayley Williams)
That’s What You Get
Caught in the Middle
Rose-Colored Boy (snippetts of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston)
Running Out of Time
Big Man, Little Dignity
Hard Times (snippets of “Born Under Punches” by Talking Heads and “Heart of Glass” by Blondie)
Told You So
The Only Exception
Ain’t It Fun
Still Into You
This Is Why