Panic! At the Disco – Shepherd’s Bush Empire - London – 4/5/11
Shepherd’s Bush Empire seems quiet as I walk past the merchandise stand and up the steps to my seat. Then I see the standing area – and it looks like it is bursting at the seams. I already know that Panic! are a good band live after reading some reviews of their earlier tours – but nothing was going to prepare me for the overwhelming greatness that was going to hit me at around 9pm. First up is unknown band Love letters. The front man swaggers on to stage in his ridiculous sun glasses and a beer in his hand, whilst the drummer sits rigidly, looking like an early nineties throwback. This already illustrates the horror the audience are about to endure through out Love Letters’ set. Drums turned up too loud, and an unnecessary earful of dance-like bass… it’s enough to make you cringe. Moments when the music doesn’t match the movements of the singer’s lips makes you question whether Love Letters are really performing. But things instantly pick up when Brendon Urie and co. hit the stage. Decked out in bowties, suits and shirts; Panic! At the Disco are dressed to impress – and perform an excellent set. The band bursts into their latest single Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind). Brendon Urie leaps around the stage, hitting all the right notes whilst Spencer Smith (drums) and current touring members Dallon Weekes (bass guitar) and Ian Crawford (lead guitar) get lively. Brendon inquires “Do you want to get naughty?” before belting Lying is The Most Fun… and the song sounds marvellous. The set is of a high standard – a healthy mixture of the debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and new album Vices and Virtues (only two singles from the second album Pretty. Odd). The music is upbeat and splendid, and Mr Urie’s vocals amaze fans – hitting higher notes than a choir soprano. These guys are certainly performers – complete with crazy dancing, gymnastic guitar playing and banter with the audience. As the gig is performed on May 4th – Brendon announces it is Dallon’s 21st Birthday, which is closely followed by “Happy Birthday” sung by the entire audience. After a well played Smiths cover – the band break into a rendition of Panic!’s hit single – I Write Sins Not Tragedies. I am certainly not ready to go, and a hyped encore of Nearly Witches… (Which includes a stage dive) is an ideal way to end a very fun evening. An epic show.
From the second they walked on stage Panic At The Disco held their audience in the palm of their hand. Completely caught up in the madness and magic of the evening the mainly under 18 crowd appeared to be on cloud nine, singing along about eyes the size of the moon and waves of wooden legs and fortunately throughout the hour long set Panic didn’t let the momentum slip.
Brendon Urie’s vocals have gained the maturity that they where previously lacking, which is most audible in his acoustic solo rendition of Time to Dance. He also managed to perform vocal gymnastics on Build God Then We’ll Talk and Folkin Around that are equal to Patrick Stump.
The banter with the crowd was good, although it lacked spontaneity at times. Guitarist Ryan Ross and Bassist Jon Walker encouraged the crowd to snap their fingers and show off their jazz hands during There’s A Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought of It Yet which of course the screaming crowd took to with valour.
It would seem that Panic At The Disco have matured from a slightly shaky and anxious live band into a truly incredible one who have realised what works well on stage and on record, and have adapted their song accordingly.
I left the Astoria sweaty and exhausted but blissfully happy to have seen an extremely polished performance by a young band that seems musically mature beyond their 21 years. Having said that I might just be a sucker for a tambourine.