Drawing the biggest crowd of the day, but not of the weekend, are Paramore – Reading’s Friday night sub headliner. Their flaws have been mercilessly scrutinized by eager critics while their attributes have been exulted by a thousand screaming fans, and after a troubling year of creative stasis and internal disintegration, standing still feels like a triumph for Franklin, Tennessee’s finest.
Occupying the exact same spot as they did in 2010, Paramore appear visibly relieved to hear the crowd’s roar. Hayley readily admits she needed this, and while the crowd are in no mood to bring her down, the feisty lead singer does little to warrant their adulation. Her vocals are snatched as she flitters between inaudibly quiet verses and screeched choruses. Unsurprisingly, the set’s finest moments come when Hayley simply plays ring master, allowing the crowd bellow “Brick By Boring Brick” and softly coo the saccharine banalities of “The Only Exception”.
What she lacks in vocal consistency, she makes up for with sheer vibrancy. The singer hardly stands still; she bounces, roars, and mouths along, throwing herself into the performance. It’s enough to carry the day. Despite the vocal wobbles and disappointingly thin guitar sound, the hits keep coming and a largely adoring crowd are happy to do the leg work. By the end of the set, the momentum proves irresistible as “Ignorance” and “Misery Business” prove suitably incendiary. Even an awkward fan fluffing her lines in the face of the main stage’s formidable headlights can’t dampen the mood. Paramore leave with their heads held high – job done, just not particularly well. David Hayter