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Review: Paramore The Is Why Tour at Little Caesars Arena

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How I became a Paramore fan was by complete happenstance. About a decade ago, a friend of mine invited me to go to a Paramore concert with them. I had never really listened to the band before, however, the ticket was free and they were near the stage. It sounded like a no-brainer, so off I went. I didn’t know it at the time, but that one concert began an intense love for the band. A love that has now taken me to more than a handful of concerts, having seen them each time their tour brings them to Detroit.

This current tour, promoting their latest album This Is Why, marked the first time they performed in Little Caesars Arena (LCA) since it opened in 2017. Performing in front of nearly 23,000 fans must be nerve-wracking, but Hayley Williams, Zac Farro, and Taylor York made it look easy as the lights dimmed and the show began. If you’re new to the Paramore family, or returning after their long hiatus, the This Is Why tour should be at the top of your to-do list when it makes its stop in a city near you.

Getting tickets for the Paramore show

If you’ve read Emily Maack’s review of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, you might have heard how difficult tickets were to procure. While securing Paramore tickets for the This Is Why tour wasn’t nearly as difficult as Emily’s time doing it, they weren’t necessarily easy to come by. Thankfully, verified pre-sale and Paramore fan pre-sale through Ticketmaster are a thing, which helped to get tickets the first day. Tickets were going fast, with large batches of them disappearing left and right.

Paramore from This Is Why Tour.

So I bought two tickets for my friend and myself as quickly as possible, even though they weren’t as close as I usually would have liked. However, the lower bowl of LCA is much preferable to the upper bowl, which is stacked practically vertically and isn’t good for those who suffer from a fear of heights. That being said, with the tickets secured months in advance, all that was left was to wait until show night. 

Stadium Vibes at LCA

The show was scheduled to begin at 7 pm, which is typical for shows in the Metro Detroit area, with the doors opening at 6:30 pm. The many entries were flooded with fans waiting to get in, with the air electrified with excitement. Once everyone was checked by security and tickets were scanned, there was time to mingle before the show began.

Besides the traditional merch stands scattered throughout the stadium, LCA also had a Paramore-inspired drink that fans seemed to flock to. A bright orange drink with light-up ice cubes and a monarch butterfly topping it. Fans of Paramore know the importance of butterflies to the band, so it was the perfect drink to celebrate their triumphant return.

Once we made it to our seats, I was finally able to take in the full scope of the This Is Why tour at Little Caesars Arena. The fans began flooding into the stadium, bringing with them an overwhelming sense of excitement, paired with the roar of cheers. At one end of the stadium was the stage, which all three acts played on.

Paramore Tour-Set
Shots of the stage: Left from Bloc Party’s set. Right from Paramore’s set.

The stage itself was pretty basic, with a large raised platform with another running platform behind it and staircases connecting the two. There was a large screen behind the entire stage, which also ran down the front of the running platform in the back. Above them was a structure made of two trapezoids, with a large circular bit in the middle. Throughout the concert this structure would move up and down, as well as shift to different points in time with the music. Overall the stage was simple but provided a fantastic vantage point in which to watch the bands play.

Opening acts: Genesis Owusu and Bloc Party

The show opened with Genesis Owusu, who I wasn’t familiar with at all. However, he really got the audience pumped for what was to come, playing eight songs over a thirty-minute set. Genesis Owusu wasn’t quite what I was expecting for an opening act of a Paramore show. Paramore has always had an alternative rock/punk pop vibe to themselves, however, Genesis Owusu is a hip-hop rapper.

The Ghanaian-Australian singer seems like a far stretch from the vibes usually associated with Paramore, but if they were looking for someone to start the night off right, he was their guy. With songs like “Leaving the Light” “GTFO” and “Good Times”, the crowds were up dancing and cheering.

While Genesis Owusu was good, it was the second opening act that caught my attention more. Bloc Party, who traveled from the U.K., had similar musical vibes to Paramore, with an Indie Rock sound that reminded me of many of my favorite bands. I was mildly shocked to learn that they have been around for decades as a band, and yet I have never heard of any of their songs. However, that didn’t stop the crowd from joining in on their jam session.

Paramore Tour- Block Party
Bloc party

Leading the band was Kele Okereke, who had a comfortable sexy air to him on stage, though perhaps part of that was due to his accent. The entire band seemed like they were having the time of their lives on the stage, without appearing cocky or standoffish about their stardom. Instead, they came off down to Earth, caring about the fans there. This was exhibited when Okereke stopped the song “High Life” due to someone in general admissions being injured. That level of care made him even more enduring.

Bloc Party had a good mixture of songs with different sounds and from different stages of their musical careers. Songs such as “Hunting for Witches”, “Real Talk”, and “Helicopter”. Tonally being similar to Paramore, they were the perfect lead-up to the main event.

The main event: Paramore

The two opening acts were excellent, but the audience was ready for Paramore to take the stage. At just about 9 pm the lights dimmed for the third time, signaling that the band was ready and the show was about to begin. The setlist for the This Is Why tour consisted of 20 songs for the main set and two encores, with music selected from throughout their entire discography. Yes, the main focus of the tour was to promote their new album, therefore many of the songs came from that, however, there were still enough of their past hits to enjoy.

Paramore’s self-titled album and After Laughter are two of my favorites from the band, so it was exciting to hear those songs. After Laughter especially hits home, as the album deals with difficult feelings such as sadness and depression, so songs “Rose-Colored Boy” and “Hard Times” hit me hard, as I’m sure they did for everyone who has been depressed. As well, in the same vein, “Ain’t it Fun” from their self-titled album hit the same way, which was the song they used to close out the main set.

Paramore 2
Paramore on This Is Why Tour.

There are some things that all fans can expect from a Paramore concert. The first is the up close and personal talks Hayley Williams gives to fans. Williams has never been one to shy away from discussing her feelings and being open and honest with fans about her life and the process of creating music. There were plenty of moments when she raised the lights and spoke directly to the audience. During these moments she reminded us why Detroit is so important to the band’s journey, again making the concert a personal experience.

You can also expect the iconic dancing that only Hayley Williams can bring to the stage. She has such a distinct dancing style that encapsulates the fun she’s having performing with some of her best friends. It adds to the quirky nature of Paramore and you can’t help but want to dance with her. The final thing that every fan who’s attended a show up to this point should know, is how she brings up a fan to sing “Misery Business” with her.

This has happened at every show I’ve ever been to and seems an honored tradition by Williams and the band. This is always a big moment and showcases how the Paramore fans are a big family. It doesn’t become a competition, but instead, a bonding moment where we get to cheer on another fan.

The Paramore tour continues

The This Is Why tour was a spectacular show from start to finish. Paramore knows how to engage a crowd, from their charming personalities, to the selection of songs, and the inclusivity of their shows. With quite a few stops left on the North American branch of this tour, you should definitely make Paramore a priority if you’re looking for a good time in a room where all 23,000 individuals are treated like family.

Paramore is currently touring North America. Have you seen them or planning on seeing them when they come to your city? Let us know on Twitter or in the Cosmic Circus discord.

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 366 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson