Live Review:
Panic! at the Disco

Pray for the Wicked tour at Manchester Arena, 30 March

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It’s Saturday night and Panic! at the Disco have just the song for the occasion. Manchester Arena is sold out and waiting for Brendon Urie and Co to perform it, and as many of their back catalogue hits as they can pack into one set.

There are some decent support acts to help build up the atmosphere. Arizona (from New Jersey – go figure) fill our ears with their polished synth-pop anthems. They clearly have a great sound engineer helping them deliver a crisp, clean sound from which the crowd can actually pick out the lyrics and get on board with songs most have never heard before.

Next up is alt-pop singer Mo, who brings great energy to such a huge venue. Best known for her collaborative mega-hit Lean On with Major Lazer and DJ Snake, she skanks, flails, and bounces her way through her recent singles. With her Björk-esqe vocals, the Denmark native oozes finesse and easily earns her place to perform to a 20,000-strong crowd.

A 10-minute countdown appears behind the stage. The crowd are in a screaming frenzy for every minute that passes. Even “4:20” gets a cheer. But when the countdown hits zero and the band enters the stage there is one key figure missing. Not long behind, musical mastermind Brendon Urie arrives in style – projected by a pneumatic platform underneath the stage, catapulting him two metres into the air before he coolly lands on both feet and launches into (F**k A) Silver Lining from latest album Pray for the Wicked.

It’s amazing what just over a decade can do to a band. From losing and gaining members to dropping the “!” and putting it back, and drastically changing their sound from emo to pop-rock, Panic! at the Disco have solidified their position as a must-see live act.

Urie has become quite an icon in recent years. Now technically the only remaining member of the band, his talent far surpasses his counterparts. His vocal range croons the lows and rockets to the highs; he dances like no one is watching; he performs his own drum solo; and he embraces his inner showman, which he acknowledges with a tip of the top hat when he covers The Greatest Show.

Since coming out as pansexual Urie has also become a figurehead for the LBGTQ+ community and £1 from each ticket sale for this tour is being donated to his High Hopes Foundation, which advocates for those who suffer abuse on the basis of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. With little coloured paper hearts being left on the seats, the audience is asked to shine their phones through, creating a multi-coloured sea of lights. As he sings his heart out to Girls/Girls/Boys, rainbow flags are flung onto the stage, which he graciously accepts and drapes around his shoulders.

With a talented backing band, Panic! at the Disco soar through 28 songs, lasers, lights, fire and even a levitating piano solo. It is a sight to behold and an experience to relish. Underneath it all is a bucketload of talent. Being one of the only bands to cover Bohemian Rhapsody flawlessly, is it much of a surprise?

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