Arriving at Custom House Square in Belfast, Pure Love are already in full flow. Systematic scanning of the stage can pin down every member of the band but where the vocals are coming from is a mystery until a tattooed ginger man appears being held aloft by the audience. It’s a solid set with sporadic interruptions from the “Fuck yeah!” school of stage banter which is exactly what the 16+ aged crowd want to hear at this time in the evening.
When You Me At Six frontman Josh Franceschi appears he’s all toothy grins and grand arm-sweeping gestures. He comes across as the consummate nice guy until he goes on a rant about the band’s A & R people, a slightly uncomfortable moment that the younger audience members love for it’s anti-establishment sentiment. ‘Crash’ is probably the high point of the set, Josh’s demeanour indicating a change of pace and the stillness of the other band members shifting focus to the audience who are for the most part singing along, visibly emotional and embracing each other. A touching moment in a fun set that even ends with slightly screamo vocals in ‘Bite My Tongue’.
Paramore build the tension by taking to the stage one at a time, vocalist Hayley Williams appearing last, having started to sing offstage, a move that sends the audience wild trying to get a glimpse of her. First song ‘Brick By Boring Brick’ is anything but boring, involving Williams dramatically stripping off her coat and weightlifting the mic stand. ‘Renegade’ begins acapella showcasing a strong live voice, stronger even if you take into account the amount of jumping about Williams does.
It’s hard to tell where the line is drawn between choreography and genuinely carefree love of the music. Williams makes use of the full stage, spinning with abandon but is always where she’s needed for an airpunch, a yell or a punctuating head-and-hair-toss. There are elements of femininity: a flash of her red bra, the shimmering wet-look leggings and the disturbingly phallic pink microphone but she works against this as well, being seen to spit between songs and having an aggressive persona when talking to the audience. This talking is anthemic, she speaks in soundbites to rouse the crowd while also taking time to get her breath back. It’s not all about Williams though, bassist Jeremy Davis and guitarist Taylor York somersaulting over each other during ‘That’s What You Get’, a move not often seen without rollerblades, never mind while playing instruments.
Things are dialled back a little when Williams and York sit on a box at the front of the stage for ‘In The Mourning’, with a touch of ‘Landslide’ by Fleetwood Mac thrown in for good measure. The crowd, knowing their duty shine phones and light lighters, singing along. The sun has set by this point and the voices in the darkness plus a dash of rain and Williams actually showing some girlish vulnerability by hugging York make this something special.
It’s all go again after that, the ‘Love Cats’-esque ‘Fences’ getting the audience clicking their fingers and attemping a bit of a soft-shoe shuffle and ‘Ignorance’ put across with almost violent energy and barely concealed frustration that comes to the fore every time the band line-up changes and “the Paramore soap opera” are mentioned. They feign a last song with ‘Whoa’ and disappear but the audience know something is still to come, the bass headstock peeking out from backstage and then disappearing again in a teasing manner. The encore, when it finally does come finishes with ‘Misery Business’, much to the delight of the song requesting audience and the heavily pregnant fan invited onstage to sing the bridge, clearly loving the experience down to the roots of her bright pink hair, an enthusiasm clearly shared by the majority present.