The sweat. The adrenaline. The screaming teenage girls. Oh it’s certain, Panic! At The Disco are back in town and they are better than ever. Vices and Virtues is a great return to form for the guys, especially after the Beatles-inspired trainwreck that was Pretty Odd. The departure of Ryan Ross and Jon Walker certainly hasn’t hurt Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith in the slightest, instead inspiring them to create awesomely catchy tunes with a hell of a hook. But can they still cut it live?
Before we could get down to business, London louts Love Letters lumbered onto the stage. From an aural perspective, they were relatively competent, playing rock and roll inspired electropop. However visually, they were a complete shambles. The lead singer clearly looked like he should have been passed out back surrounded by beer cans, wearing shades on a dimly lit stage and with a terrible 80s look. Duff McKagan can pull it off still, this guy couldn’t. At times, it was also highly uncertain whether or not he was miming – it could have been some clever effect pedal. This element still ruined the set for me, proving that Love Letters rely on over-production even on stage. The music itself is pretty catchy, the performance extremely uninspiring. They’d be perfect for Radio 1 but not much good elsewhere.
And then Panic! At The Disco get on stage and bring it. Although nowhere near as elaborate as some of their previous shows, Panic! clearly still have an eye for flair and showmanship as Urie bounds on stage, dressed in white and black, bow tie on firm and a backdrop containing the new logo flourishes dramatically behind Smith. After all, if there’s anything we’ve learnt since Panic! last graced the stage, bow ties are cool. The band immediately break into new single, Ready To Go, an absolute anthem in the making. The band are happy, eager to be back on stage and it shows – the screams are momentous.
I’m going to take a break from music for a paragraph to just emphasis how LOUD that screaming was. And teenage. And kind of weird considering that most Panic! fans are now about my age (I’m getting towards 21). The sheer enthusiasm in that crowd was awesome, if a little intimidating. I personally know the trials and tribulations of appropriate gig behaviour and when to throw it out of the window. I know that my fellow writer Kitteh was not impressed. I kind of get the hype. Not going to lie, Brendon Urie and co are looking gorgeous still. It’s easy to forget that Panic! are still in their mid-20s, despite their insane talent. Fangirls being back in full force was an interesting experience, perhaps not one I would repeat quite so readily though.
But back to Panic! now, the balance of material was excellent. There was a great mix of old and new material, picking the best songs from each album, but left Time To Dance out. Crucial mistake? Not so much, considering their inclusion of Camisado, a song I’ve always felt more suited for the dancefloor. Only two of the singles from Pretty Odd made an appearance, which I expected and was more than happy about. An unexpected Smiths cover proved interesting and signifies a return to one of Panic!’s favourite features in their live shows. Urie showcased his musical talent, flitting from the keyboard to the guitar to timpani, and every member, including new friends Dallon Weekes and Ian Crawford, getting a go at the drumming. It is this that makes it more of a show than a concert as everyone moves frenetically across stage, giving it their absolute all. The sound quality was more than awesome in songs, but Urie’s stage banter came across somewhat more unclear. But we didn’t need to hear him talk to know that Panic! were having a great time there. As a quick grin from Smith to Urie showed, Panic! love what they do and in turn, we absolutely love them. Charming as ever and fantastically fun, Panic! At The Disco, and their reintroduced exclamation mark, have an extremely bright future ahead of them.