Belsonic: Paramore with support from Pure Love, Jody Has A Hitlist and You Me At Six
Sunday 19th August 2012 – Custom House Square, Belfast
It’s the fifth night in this year’s Belfast Belsonic festival and punters from all ages are gathered in Custom House Square for a night of pop-punk anarchy. Ireland’s own Jody Has a Hitlist are the first opening act this evening and immediately it is clear that they have the home advantage. From the moment the gates to the festival are opened, the band have a sea of fans awaiting for them front and centre in a manner virtually unheard of for a support band at any gig, let alone a Northern Irish one. Padraig McAlister has the crowd drawn in hook, line and sinker while the rest of the band perform an incredibly tight set that gets the crowd into a nice and rowdy state, just in time for the rest of the evening.
For those who are new to Pure Love, we’ll fill in the blanks. Formed by ex-Gallows frontman Frank Carter, the band are yet to release their debut album (due out October this year) but to see these guys in action you’d find that very hard to believe. Carter proudly delivers his mission statement that they are here to play some love songs, but don’t let that fool you as the imagery conveyed through songs such as Handsome Devil’s Club – a song about being naughty, and Bury My Bones aren’t your typical love songs. Gallows fierce vocal performance isn’t far off something you’d expect from the late, great Joe Strummer as he delivers lyrics that are both poignant and angsty. One track has him chanting that there’ll be “a riot on the streets of Belfast,” and after a performance such as this, you wouldn’t expect anything less. Carter bravely clambers into the crowd early on during the set and performs many of these virtually unknown tracks from the heart of the mosh pit, taking the time to chat to his fans and even boldly perform one tune from the vantage point of some lucky punters shoulders. In terms of audience interaction and honest brutality, it’s clear that the Pure Love mentality was designed to work both ways as they win the hearts and minds of this Belfast crowd.
You Me At Six return to Belfast not long after headlining and selling out the Ulster Hall back in April. It’s obvious that their collective of fans has increased since then as the crowd seems to multiply tenfold upon their arrival on stage amidst a swirl of smoke and a thunderous rhythm of drums. Lead singer Josh Franceschi is a little drowned out by the sound of his own band but thankfully the audience is there to lend a helping hand by providing some well needed assistance to the vocals. An energetic performance throughout, Josh proudly bounds around the stage addressing all corners of Custom House Square. Clearly a man who knows his fanbase, he dedicates one of their songs to those who’ve recently received exam results which is certainly a nice, warm gesture from a band who despite being continuously on the up, never leave a fan behind. Commenting on the state of the music industry, he applauds those who have purchased the most recent You Me At Six album, and cheers for those who may or may not have illegally downloaded it, following up nicely with their song Underdog.
Paramore are the reason most of us are here tonight, as they return to Belfast having almost destroyed the King’s Hall back in 2010. The stakes are higher this time around as the Tennessee pop-punk riotters have to prove they can handle the monster that is the open air Belfast crowd. At first the pocket-sized Paramore pixie front lady Hayley Williams is a little difficult to make out over some dodgy levels but it doesn’t take long for these to settle down and in all fairness, the crowd really don’t seem to care. She makes up for this by throwing herself around the stage like a orange haired, Pure Love t-shirt wearing ragdoll, feeding off the energy of the crowd and running on pure adrenaline. Opening with Brick By Boring Brick, what follows is a collection of songs spanning across all three albums, as well as a few surprisingly well-received new songs from their recent digital-only singles club. In the Mourning is a ballad that sees Hayley and guitarist Taylor York take centre stage sitting upon a light bulb decorated amp, usually reserved as a podium for Hayley to use in order to stand tall above the crowd during their more well-known hits. This ties in with the band’s more famous ballad The Only Exception which has the entire crowd (including myself) singing along in time. Still, ballads aside, you can’t beat the upbeat, pop punk angst that comes with monster hits such as That’s What You Get, Pressure and Ignorance – a song that Hayley comments is closure for the Paramore soap opera that plagued the band for many years.
Of course, the encore was inevitable, but it couldn’t hurt to chant “One more tune,” in true Belfast fashion and it doesn’t take long before Paramore return to stage, unleashing another new track from their singles club collection entitled Hello Cold World. At this stage in the evening, it’s obvious that there are more than just a few Paramore paramours in the audience as the song is not only well-received, but provides a perfect warm-up for the band’s final track – the infectious pop hit Misery Business. Even the stop-start trickling of the rain wasn’t enough to put this Paramore fan base off and the night closes with Hayley performing a rather unique and heartwarming gesture by inviting one of her pregnant fans onstage to sing alongside her. The girl does good in not only keeping up with her idols but in by renewing the crowds energy with a sense of pride for the final moments of the song, allowing all hell to break loose one last time before the night ends. So don’t let the song title fool you. If you’re ever privileged enough to see Paramore in their element, you’ll soon realise that misery usually never makes an appearance on the business agenda.