Inside Paramore’s London ‘This Is Why’ listening party

When Official Paramore Expert Eleanor Osada said she was heading to the band's London fan listening party we snapped her hand off at the offer of a first-hand account.

You’ll read loads about Paramore this week – and for good reason. They’re about to drop yet another remarkable, brilliant album, ‘This Is Why’. But anyone who really knows Paramore knows that, while the core trio are the heart of the band, they also count their fans among their extended gang. “We are Paramore” and all that. So, when Friend of the Magazine and Official Paramore Expert Eleanor Osada said she was heading to the band’s London fan listening party – one of a number held around the globe to give their biggest supporters a first spin of the record – we snapped her hand off at the offer of a first-hand account.

I’ve been running, essentially, a Paramore fan account on Twitter since 2013, made at the age of 16. It’s migrated more into a personal page, but anyone that follows me today knows how much I love Paramore, still. And at the heart of it, really, it’s a Paramore thing.

I had opened this ‘new’ account as a sideline to stop annoying my friends from sixth form, who I felt were, inevitably, getting fed up of me talking about the same band over and over. So I ended up prioritising my new space, of course.

It wasn’t long until I found my people. People dotted around the globe who were just as into the music, the antics, the individuals behind the sound. And so there’s been a consistency for nearly a decade now.

Last week, I had a DM on said Twitter account from @paramore. It invited me to a ‘This Is Why’ album listening party – an opportunity to hear it ahead of its release date – in a tiny bar in London.

All the way at the other end of England in Sunderland, I still jumped at the chance. Who turns down a personal invite from your favourite band? And so I went – an early morning, 3-hour train and a short trek to Soho, to the Little Scarlet Door, a trendy, dimly lit, multi-floor bar – filled top to toe with cutesy-kitsch decor.

At 6:30pm, a good 50 of us – a mix of fans and Warner/Atlantic’s corporate team – are welcomed into their basement. There are plenty of bottles of complimentary beer on ice and trays of canapés to keep us fed and watered, and the place is modestly attributed to the host: a huge ‘This Is Why’ album cover banner for people to get a souvenir photo with, drinks coasters (and a single telly screen) decked out with the same artwork, and the plexiglass of the DJ booth marked by the band’s new sans-serif logo.

It’s cosy, feeling almost like a house party. Emo/pop-punk greats (Fall Out Boy, Jimmy Eat World) are blasted while we wait, and the people that aren’t pre-gaming with a little dance are cosying down on stools, or into sofas, while busy bar staff tend to an expansive drinks menu.

A woman addresses the room to thank us all for coming, and a pre-recorded message from Paramore themselves hits the screens.

“Listen up, because you’re gonna need to know these for our shows in April,” the band’s drummer, Zac Farro instructs.

The album kickstarts with the lead single and title-track, ‘This Is Why’. It’s all too familiar to us now, so most of us get to our feet to sing and dance.

Other listening parties that have been captured around the world seem to have a vastly different feeling to what went down in London – groups, cross-legged on the floor, or quietly stood shoulder to shoulder, bobbing heads in appreciation. For the only party in the UK, we didn’t want to let the side down.

Songs we’d already heard proved to be sing-until-your-throat-is-sore material, all of us unabashedly going full-throttle for the sake of a feel-good, communal experience.

Some friends I met that night I’d known, online at least, for nearly 10 years. Others were brand new faces, but just as enthused and friendly as anyone else. Our common ground was the excitement of being among the first to hear the band’s sixth record – an understood privilege that we would recognise by going hard. Even incorporating the little live-show adlibs we’ve heard Hayley add into the song, we make it our own.

Adam, much like me, made his way down to London from the North East that Tuesday morning. He’s been a Paramore fan for a long while, and was actually pulled onstage for ‘Misery Business’ in 2010 in Newcastle, at my first ever show of theirs. He’s moving away to Australia only next week, so this is one hell of a way to bow out.

“My highlight of the night was getting to spend time with Paramore fans again, after a pandemic,” he tells me, “the last time we were all together like that was Parahoy, so it was such a joy to celebrate the new album with all the lovely people there.”

“Oh, and the free bar was also very enjoyable”, he jokes.

Matt is a longtime friend of his, and strangely enough, also duetted Misery Business with the band the second time I ever saw them – in Cardiff, on their 2013 UK tour.

“Before listening to ‘This Is Why’, I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure if the album would follow this theme of a reflection of our world in ‘the new normal’, like the singles do,” he says, “or be more of a journey coming out the other side.”

Straight into another one we’ve heard, the relenting ‘The News’, the energy is even higher, somehow. Much like ‘This Is Why’, these lyrics feel as if they need to be shouted. Today, we have the luxury of not being alone as we do.

Before recently released third single, ‘C’est Comme Ça’, we’re treated to a new one – only debuted live the night before, at the band’s special album release show in Nashville, at the famous Grand Ole Opry – ‘Running Out Of Time’. Special flexi-discs featuring this song have been appearing this week to tease the inevitable next part of their rollout.

Regardless, the song is a banger. It carries the same janky, dance-pop inspired guitar riffs that the other singles boast, and Hayley’s vocals drift in between smoky lows, and triumphant, screaming highs. There’s an immediate love, met by gasps and impromptu dance moves from our group.

It’s Jen’s favourite at first listen, someone that many would consider Paramore Twitter royalty. It was also, maybe rightly, the track she was most excited for. Jen, for no reason other than love for the band, stays up shockingly late to be among the first to cover shows on Twitter for other fans; even if they’re halfway across the world. Her dedication is amazing.

“I live around Birmingham and had to drive 4 hours down to London today, but I absolutely refused to miss the listening party,” she says to me. “I’ve been in love with the band for the best part of 12 years now.”

Into ‘C’est Comme Ça’, the most polarising of the three released songs. It’s a grower of a track, for those that it didn’t click for immediately. But – in an environment full of people, it thrives. It’s fun and self-reflective all at once, and makes for a perfect song to just let loose to.

Charley and Nell come as a duo – two friends I’ve known for a very long time. Hailing from South East London, they were elated to have won the email ballot to get into the event.

“They’ve brought together such a great community, and I’ve met so many friends through them,” starts Charley. “Having a Paramore party together is something I’ll remember forever.”

Nell seconds this, “I love how Paramore consistently uplift everybody within the music-making and music-loving community. It’s been a dream to watch them grow, and I think this new album is a perfect representation of that growth.”

In all honesty, the rest of the release is a blur. Seven unheard tracks is a lot to absorb in the dark bar of a packed basement, but I do know that not a single one was received poorly.

From Birmingham, much like Jen, are twins Will and Olivier – Will was also DM’d by the band’s official account, but since both brothers love Paramore, there was no way one was going without the other.

“Paramore caters to everything you want in a band, but I also love them for their personal and cathartic lyrics,” Will says. “I also love them for being unapologetically themselves, in and outside of music.”

Straight into ‘Big Man, Little Dignity’, arguably the track title that intrigued the most – its mellower and way less angry than we all expected, it’s fair to say. It was Matt’s “gut reaction favourite” of the night, he says.

It’s followed by ‘You First’, another that is deceptively named (we all called the sad song for this one), but instead is an upbeat track that speaks on karma – and has a feel of 00s UK indie, think ‘Monster’, by The Automatic, or something by the Kaiser Chiefs, who Paramore actually cited as an influence for this record. It actually has a feel of early Paramore too, for the old heads, with its walls of guitars in the chorus and an irresistible melody.

An instant favourite between many of us is ‘Figure 8’. Matt, sat down to the left to me during the unheard tracks, remarks that the opening, sparkly arpeggio is reminiscent of Paramore’s 2017 fan favourite, ‘Pool’. It’s true, they love a good musical reflection – the first lyric is “drained me dry / down to the last drop”, even.

“There was just something in the air tonight that made it really stand out to me,” Nell says, on ‘Figure 8’. I know what she means, the room seemed to quieten for a few minutes to really let it glow.

It’s also a favourite of Tanu, who lives in London. She also remarks on Paramore’s tight community, calling it “colourful and diverse”, also highlighting both the music and the band’s values as something special. “I feel like I’ve really found my people.”

The album slows in tempo as it closes out into the final three tracks: the tender ‘Liar’ – a heartfelt love song, the airy yet powerful ‘Crave’, and the strongest, at least lyrically on the album, ‘Thick Skull’ (Will’s favourite) – a slow burner that flourishes by its end. Its self-referencing lyrics remind me of ‘No Friend’, poking fun and showing awareness of the band’s public perception.

We all stand in a circle for this one, arm in arm, legs kicking inward like a slow can-can. It’s a funny little way of celebrating a first listen, but I think we’re all glad of each other’s company – to share this music together.

After it ends, we all cheer and whistle. It’s an accolade. We all talk about how we can hear every era of Paramore in this record, the strengths of each individual band member. I wouldn’t hesitate to say they’re at their strongest, having heard their sixth record just once.

The DJ doesn’t hit replay on ‘This Is Why’ like we all hope, but instead cycles through a random selection from Paramore’s discography, as well as some favourites from Hayley’s two solo albums.

We all stay standing, dancing together, singing loudly. “I really felt at home with everyone,” Jen says, “experiencing the music at the same time as everyone else was a treat.”

Nell agrees, adding, “There’s nothing quite like dancing so freely to music you love, with people you’ve grown to love.” We celebrate until about 8:45, just over 2 hours after being let in.

“You almost hear what must have been on the recording studio Spotify playlist: Wet Leg, Yard Act, Bloc Party,” Matt makes a point of saying as we head out. “I think these inspirations make the album feel quite British in a way.” And so tonight in London, as ‘This Is Why’ is played in its spiritual home, the sense of belonging that surrounds it only feels right.

Paramore’s new album ‘This Is Why’ is out Friday 10th February.

  • cover
    Dork Radio
Koyo are a band on the cusp of going supernova
Sky Ferreira has announced a new UK headline tour for 2024
Lynks has announced a new UK tour for 2024, and dropped single 'NEW BOYFRIEND'