London’s Borderline is the last stop for Josh Farro on his UK tour, and in support are Greywind and Natives. Farro’s self-titled debut is the first official release by the ex-Paramore member since departing from the rock heavyweights in late 2010. The debut album, which arrived in February this year, is a glistening myriad of alt-rock, sprinkled with light moments of pop, and moodier moments reminiscent of Paramore. Tonight though, the singer-songwriter is dismissing the band that defined his early years; tonight belongs to FARRO.
Taking to the stage first are Irish duo Greywind who strip back their typical pop-punk sound for a more intimate feel suiting both the venue and atmosphere. The lead singer, Steph O’Sullivan, immediately makes her vocal prowess known, and whispers of comparisons to both Hayley Williams and Taylor Jordine (We Are The In Crowd) are not surprising whatsoever. Natives soon follow suit, showcasing their unique tribal pop sound. Proud and confident, the band storm through their set with the expertise of a group, who to the untrained eye, seemingly possess a decade of experience. The name could not be more fitting for the New Forest band either, who demonstrate there is still something new to be seen from the nu-wave of rock outfits in an otherwise saturated market.
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FARRO begin the night with ‘On a Wire’, one of the heavier tracks off his album, but nevertheless an energetic introduction, which glides elegantly in its chorus as he swoons, ‘I’ve got you walking on a tight rope, honey, you’re trying hard to keep the engine running’. Instantaneously, FARRO has the audience in the palm of his hands. After tearing through the foot-tapping ‘Color Rush’ and pining ‘Dear Love’, Josh states, “this is a sad song, but it made for a good song” before the opening chords of ‘Islands’. Commenting that the song is about his parents’ divorce, the emotion is as pure and raw as it gets. As all eyes fix on centre stage, the backdrop turns from a simple black to a sea of stars floating upwards; definitively this is the most heartfelt moment of the night.
Keeping the tone within the realms of calm and controlled, FARRO play ‘Home’ immediately followed by a cover. Bringing the rest of the band to front stage, the band covers Fleet Foxes ‘White Winter Hymnal’ which is perfectly tailored to the group’s sound. Angelically delivered in a gospel-choir fashion, the crowd are simply left awestruck.
The next song Josh sensitively introduces is as a song about his brother Zac: “Growing up we were inseparable and we were best friends… but as you grow older reality becomes a thing and your childhood dreams become crushed. We talk like we used to but it’s not the same, but I don’t want to lose him and everybody has that person in their life.” This introduction sets the tone of ‘Lose You’ and the rest of the gig. FARRO is a project separate from everything Josh has done before, but that does not entail erasing his roots entirely. It’s clear the past is still a difficult issue for him, but channelling this energy into his music is about as necessary as breathing for the solo artist. Continuing on from ‘Lose You’ Josh implores the crowd to join in on the infectious ‘Say The Word’. Genuine and contrived, the song does exactly what it aims to: enthral the audience.
After the excitement settles, FARRO introduces the second cover, a rendition of Coldplay’s ‘Charlie Brown’. Arguably, covers should deviate from the original track, but the almost flawless imitation of the song boasts something even more admirable. Riling up the audience once again, FARRO takes us by the hand into his penultimate song, ‘Cliffs’. The ambient album opener ends the night fittingly, with tour supporters Greywind and Natives joining on stage for the gang vocals. Josh sings with elation, ‘So jump in the water, before you change your mind. Don’t wait any longer, you’re gonna be alright, you’ll make it out alive.’ Make it out alive is exactly what he has accomplished, and as he plays final song ‘Walkways’, the title track of the album, one cannot help thinking of what Paramore lost when they lost Josh Farro.