“If we cried hard, we’d dance forever,” Paramore’s Hayley Williams tells the sold-out crowd at New York’s Radio City Music Hall Wednesday night (Oct. 4). “Is been a gnarly week, it’s been shitty and emotional and we just want to dance with you, song with you cry with you. You got your dancing shoes on?”
Despite it only being Wednesday, the week had indeed been plenty gnarly already, with the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday and Tom Petty’s sudden passing Monday (Oct. 2). Williams’ comments throughout the entire show made it apparent that she was feeling just as much grief as anyone in the 6,000-person audience before her. And while she had the energy of someone who was bursting with happiness (not to mention her super-sparkly gold sequined romper), her profound “cry hard, dance forever” sentiment revealed that perhaps that energy was simply fueled by emotion — whether it was purely positive or otheriwse.
But that wouldn’t be entirely surprising, as “emotional energy” could be a description of Paramore’s entire catalog. And with the set list they compiled for the Tour Two North American trek this rang true even more.
Starting the show off with the After Laughter hit “Hard Times,” Paramore carried through a 19-song set list chock full of their biggest hits as well as some of their most heart-hitting tracks, from “That’s What You Get” to “Fake Happy.” Williams fulfilled her frontwoman duties to the fullest, with hair-flip headbanging and can-can kicks galore, but perhaps most necessary — at least for the timing of this particular show — plenty of heartfelt and poignantly uplifting statements to keep spirits high.
“Anyone got feelings? They get ya,” she said before the self-titled album track “I Hate to See Your Heart Break.” After joking about how Paramore has spent a lot of their career screaming at fans through their music, she also touched on the sincerity in the lyrics: “It’s good to let it out and be vulnerable, which is scary. But I think that is a choice that leads to nights like this.”
The most emotional point came when Williams and guitarist Taylor York stripped things down for an acoustic version of “26” (“the chairs are out, the gloves are off, New York City,” Wiliams quipped), but much like the rest of the show, with the crowd singing along so loudly, it felt like any sadness was purely taken over by passion. And while the choir of strangers was practically thunderous, when it came time for Williams to converse instead of croon, she had its full attention.
“I’m not going to preach to you or anything,” she said before the final few songs in the pre-encore part of the show — sparking a unanimously roaring, “Preach! Preach! Preach!” that echoed in the dome-like venue — Williams went on telling fans to use sadness or pain as inspiration to create, something that’s led to the music they’ve put out in the world.
Before going into the Riot! classic “Misery Business,” Williams reflected on the 10-year anniversary of their breakout sophomore album, and how 2007 was a simpler time — well, despite the insanely tight yellow pants she’d sport (“I’m serious I couldn’t feel my legs that entire year,” she laughed). Thanking the crowd for growing up with them, Williams fake-toasted to misery and proceeded to take the energy to an even higher level, serving as the pinnacle outlet for fans to forget all the negativity from the week.
Upon returning to the stage and performing “Caught In the Middle” to kick off the encore, Williams capped off her positive messages by acknowledging how sharing music with a room full of spirited fans was exactly what they — and the world — needed.
“It’s good to see you dancing, it’s good to see you singing, it’s good to see you smiling,” she said with an ear-to-ear grin. “When we gather like this, we can do a lot. We can create a lot of change — which I know is hard to believe, because the world is insane. And on nights like this, in weeks like this, it’s special.”
PHOTO: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CBS Radio Inc.