Review Summary: Skip the concert - buy The Final Riot! Great performance, interesting behind-the-scenes footage, and Her Royal Hotness Hayley Williams: what more could you ask for?
The young guns of Paramore have enjoyed an immense amount of success with their latest album Riot. After a promising but formulaic debut album, they expanded and tightened their sound to create one of the best alternative rock albums of 2007, and as it turned out, a career-defining album as well, as Riot became certified Platinum not too long ago. They seemed to grow a massive fan base almost overnight, and have gone from just another average alt/rock band to one of the biggest and best in the country, selling out headlining shows everywhere they go. With Paramore garnering all of this popularity and success, Fueled By Ramen decided to capitalize on it by filming the band's final U.S. tour, and thus we are presented with The Final Riot.
At first, it may seem a little odd to have a live DVD/CD coming out after only 2 albums, but then again, this sort of thing has become a trend lately. And at least it isn't just a simple re-release, with a couple b-sides, maybe a couple acoustic tracks and some music videos. The Final Riot is done more in the vein of Underoath's projects, 777 and Survive: Kaleidoscope. It has video footage of an entire concert on the Final Riot Tour, lots of video of the band answering questions, having fun, and talking about their life since the release of Riot. It also features a live CD.
The first question I asked myself (and the reason I almost didn't buy this), was whether or not it was even worth my money. After all, you can see plenty of concert footage of Paramore on Youtube, and pay not one cent. Sure, the video quality isn't that great in most instances, but especially for popular bands like Paramore it is not hard to find lots of videos in passable quality. And plenty of footage can be found of the band clowning around and having fun in the bus and backstage. However, I ended up getting it anyway, mainly just for the DVD and on the basis of it being a FULL concert, hoping that it would justify the $18 I spent on it. The main things I was looking for were: good performance by the band (I was pretty confident of that one), good video quality, video angles, etc., good sound quality, and backstage/bus footage that wasn't boring or something I already could have seen on Youtube.
First, regarding the concert: the main difference this has with most concert DVD's is that you cannot watch the full concert all the way through. It is broken into 3-song segments, with the band member interviews/commentary and all the additional video footage in between each 3-song concert segment. Some people, including the other reviewer may find this annoying, as it is a bit unusual and there is no way to watch the concert through without the other footage in between. However, I found it quite cool actually. It was different, yes, but not awkward. The transistions between the concert footage and the band video were extremely well done, never abrupt. The band video segments seemed to be just the right length too: just as I'd be thinking "alright, I'm ready for more of the concert", the concert footage would come back, at just the right time. However, this is definitely a matter of personal taste. If you were expecting and wanting a full concert video, you probably woudn't like this. I give them a lot of credit though for trying something new and different, and for the most part they succeeded in this aspect.
As for my worries that Youtube may have rendered this a waste of money? I shouldn't have even given it a second thought. The video and sound quality are astounding, and thoroughly blow away any and all concert footage that Youtube has to offer. I knew it would be better, but trust me this is WAY better. Nothing replaces actually being at the concert, but this comes as close as you can possibly hope to get. The camera work is extremely well done, there are a huge amount of camera angles that are all very well-placed and all add to the experience. It is a very good mix of whole band shots and individual shots, and while Hayley is the center of attention, she definitely doesn't dominate the camera like you might expect: there are plenty of shots of the other band members, and as a whole it is a very pleasing mixture. They do switch between camera angles frequently, but not in an annoying way, and not rapid-fire like most music videos. I applaud the producers of this concert video: they did an excellent job in this aspect.
The other aspect is the behind-the-scenes video. To me, they aced this as well. The main 2 aspects of this portion were shots of the individual members talking about their life on tour and how things have changed since Riot came out, and video footage of the band doing various things from figuring out how to construct the Final Riot Tour and soundchecking, to walking around in malls, goofing off on the bus and having fun at their Platinum Record celebration. Alot of it is fairly typical and just what you would expect, but the footage is always fun, and the band is surprisingly honest about their problems and difficulties touring with each other. And at 40 minutes long, you really do learn alot about tour life and about each member personally. This portion is, as I said before spread out over the duration of the concert in between 3-song segments, or you can watch it by itself all the way through. Why they didn't make this an option for the concert footage also I have no idea, but at least they do have this option for this footage.
Now, on to the band's performance. As expected, they put on an extremely energetic and entertaining show, especially Hayley. Josh has never been one to spazz with his guitar and do a bunch of showmanship, but he doesn't really need to. And he, as well as the other guys, show plenty of energy when they need to. Their performance matches the music perfectly: they leave they ax-swinging, gyrating, and headbanging to the metal bands, where it belongs. Hayley puts on a stunning performance, belting out her lyrics with passion and virtually acing every single song, while looking as hot as ever doing it.
The band starts with a great intro for the first song Born For This, which is one of the best live songs that Paramore has. It was a great choice for an opener, and transitions perfectly into the current single That's What You Get. They include only 4 songs from All We Know Is Falling: Here We Go Again, My Heart (a much softer, piano-driven rendition that works extremely well), Pressure, and Emergency. I would have expected possibly a few more, but it does makes sense to have mostly Riot songs on a "Final Riot" tour. The highlights, in my opinion were Born For This, Fences, Let The Flames Begin, My Heart, Decoy, and Emergency, but all of the songs were very well done. The only slightly weak songs to me were CrushCrushCrush and Pressure, both very catchy songs but failing to translate into the standout live songs that you would expect. I've seen them do much better on both songs. As a whole though, it is an extremely stellar performance, and the outro for Let The Flames Begin as well as the intros for Born For This and Emergency are truly great moments, among many others.
To sum up, The Final Riot may be unnecessary, but it is a really cool album to have, especially if you're a big fan of these guys (and girl). For what it is, a live concert video, it is close to perfect. The performance is sharp, the camera angles maximize the performance, and the behind-the-scenes documentary footage is very interesting and insightful. The only nit to pick is that they inexplicably left out the option to watch just the raw concert all the way through. After just a couple viewings, you'll remember all the behind-the-scenes stuff, which will then become annoying to either listen to yet again or have to fast-forward through. If you enjoy the concert and the band however, it's still easily worth suffering through this slight irritation. Well worth the money if you're a fan - you won't be dissappointed.