Although Pray For The Wicked was released last June, this is the first time Panic! At The Disco have brought the tour to these shores. But with patience comes great things, and two sell out nights at The O2 are bound to surpass any expectations.
The 20,000 capacity venue is packed from wall-to-wall with a crowd as diverse as London itself. People of all ages have turned up to see the show of the year: from teenagers experiencing their first taste of the Brendon Urie phenomenon, to those who were here the first time around, when Panic! At The Disco consisted of four members and were tipped as the hottest new thing. The one thing that binds every single person in this crowd is the party they’re all attending.
A full screen countdown begins to tick down from 10:00; the lights dim, people return to their seats as young girls murmur excitedly, and then, as the screen hits 00:00, Urie bursts through the stage floor like he’s wearing a jet pack, opening the set with ‘(Fuck A) Silver Lining’. The song is energetic and upbeat, and as streamers fly out over the crowd, it’s simply a first taste of how brilliant the entire night is going to be.
Urie addresses the crowd several times throughout the night, pointing out that “we only get to do this because of you… Thank you for being here and thank you for existing!” He’s blown away by the support of the 20,000 strong crowd, and The O2 reacts accordingly for the entire 28 song set.
Pray For The Wicked has been received just as well as the rest of the band’s back catalogue, and the crowd screams for newer songs like ‘Hey Look Ma, I Made It’ and ‘Roaring 20s’ showcase the true entertainment factor that current Panic! At The Disco brings to the stage. The tracks are full of catchy hooks and blissful high notes, and Urie performs them all with passion that shows he’s clearly happy to be here.
Between the slices of party and thrilling happenings, there are moments of poignancy. For ‘Girls/Girls/Boys’, pieces of multi-coloured heart shaped paper are passed around for fans to hold up to their phone lights, creating the illusion of a pride rainbow. It’s not an event that’s a surprise – the song has been hailed as a LGBT anthem since it’s release, and Urie ends the performance by announcing that every person in The O2 tonight belongs in the room, even if they don’t feel like it.
Halfway through the set, Urie makes his way towards the sound booth, where a small platform containing a white piano awaits. He takes his seat and begins a childhood story about his mother trying to teach him to play, before launching into a cover of one of his favourite songs, ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ by Bonnie Raitt. That alone is lovely enough, but halfway through the track, he fades into Pray For The Wicked’s ‘Dying In LA’; a heartfelt song about trying to make a name for yourself in the industry, and failing. The platform flies above the crowd while Urie plays the piano perfectly, and it’s a sincere moment sandwiched between good vibes and electrifying enjoyment – the calm before the storm.
Bonnie Raitt isn’t the only artist the band covers. Urie’s trademark performance of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ keeps its place in the set list, which makes the dozens of parents who have been dragged along happy, while the addition of ‘The Greatest Show’ (from the soundtrack of The Greatest Showman) perfectly encapsulates the mood of the evening. This really is the greatest show, and if you’re one of the lucky few that made it to one of the sold out nights, then you’re in for a treat.
Fan favourites ‘Nine In The Afternoon’ and ‘I Write Sins, Not Tragedies’ reminds us all of where Panic! At The Disco started. There’s not a lot that can faze Brendon Urie, but witnessing some 20,000 people screaming the words of his band’s most famous song back at him seems to throw him, and he takes a minute to admire the view with a smile.
Like all good things, tonight must come to an end, and Panic! At The Disco end the set with the perfectly fitting upbeat bounciness of ‘Victorious’. Featuring streamers, pyrotechnics, and confetti, endless examples of Urie’s vocal talent and musical genius, a small brass band and talented musicians playing alongside the frontman, the night has been exactly that: a victory.
It’s not hard to see why Panic! At The Disco sold out two nights at the famous arena. Like Urie himself said, everyone in The O2 has managed to turn a Thursday into a Saturday, because their shows are full of life and bursting at the seams with fun, appealing to people of all races, all ages, and all backgrounds. The set has showcased Panic! At The Disco’s transition from emo’s hottest young thing to one of the best entertainment shows around, and you’d be a fool to miss out.
I think everyone who has seen them on the Pray For The Wicked Tour will agree with me when I say: long may the transition continue, because Brendon Urie can do just about anything he sets his mind to.