The Final Riot! proves that Paramore is more than just a pretty face and voice. The band is a tight force, with guitarists Josh Farro and Taylor York, bassist Jeremy Davis and drummer Zac Farro forming a solid foundation for each of the songs here. Hayley Williams shows that she is a good front person, with lots of interaction between her and the audience, coaxing them to sing along and make noise at just the right times. While these factors must’ve made for a great live show, they don’t necessarily make for a great live album. It was recorded well, but perhaps could have benefited from some of the “cheating” that the great live albums of old have done (can you say, “overdubs in the studio?”). Many of the moments that audience members who were there remember about the show, like when they sang along to counter-verses or choruses, weaken this listening experience. Even when the audience joins in loudly, which is few and far between, Hayley Williams does a better job with the vocals than the folks at Chicago’s Congress Theatre did. The best songs on Final Riot turn out to be the ballads, since we hear all the vocals clearly and the mic isn’t shared with the crowd. The best part about this package, of course, is the DVD disc, which mixes the 40 Days With Paramore tour documentary with a well-lit, nicely-shot visual concert performance. While the editing choice of mixing the two was interesting, it’s a questionable call, because some of the material is anti-climactic, like the band discussing at length the challenge of how to open the show, which comes after we’ve already seen the solo-followed-by-dueling guitar intro. Oh well, as a fan of Paramore, there’s no way I wasn’t going to pick this album up and, in spite of its flaws, I’m very glad I did. And, after all, one of the viewing options is concert-only, so you can avoid the interruptions.
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