Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Panic! at the Disco - Brixton O2 Academy, 12/01/16

I was excited when Charley Marley was announced as support for this show, because when I saw him support Fall Out Boy his set was flawless. He got the crowd moving, his unflappable energy was impossible to critique and he was the perfect start to what turned out to be a brilliant night.
Sadly, this set was nothing like the last one of his that I saw. With half an hour on stage (double the time he had at Fall Out Boy) he added in two new songs that didn't have any impact. Where 'Wonka Bar' and 'Bandalero' are memorable and infectious, 'Alcatraz' and 'Dancing With The Wolves' are forgettable and bland. I'd been looking forward to hearing more of his songs, but they just weren't as impressive.
I think Charley Marley is an artist who is definitely better in small doses. He didn't seem to be able to get the crowd behind him, receiving polite applause but nothing coming close the reaction that he received at Wembley Arena. The venue in Brixton is smaller, so it should have been easier for him to grab the attention of the crowd, instead of fighting a losing battle. I considered whether it could have been the fact that I was seated (even though I was sat at Wembley, and therefore it shouldn't have had an influence) but I've spoken to someone who was standing and they said that there was a lack of interest surrounding the majority of his set, which is a huge shame.
As he releases more music, I hope he re-harnesses the magic that made him stand out to Pete Wentz - he must have had something special to be discovered in the first place! - because I don't have my hopes too high after this performance.

Wonka Bar
Dancing With The Wolves
Bad Things With Jamaicans

Occasionally, I'll go to a show that's so good I don't want to review it. I procrastinate completely, avoiding the blog and wallowing in thoughts of the show, just wishing I could go back. What's the point in talking about it, when no one will ever understand how momentously brilliant it was?
Unsurprisingly, this was one of those shows.
Panic! at the Disco have always been one of my favourite live bands. This was only the third time I'd seen them (the other two being a headline show back in 2011, and their triumphant set at Reading festival last summer) but I'd never been disappointed. As you can imagine, my expectations for this one off album launch show were through the roof: as well as launching 'Death of a Bachelor', their fifth full-length, it also marks the first show of what is going to be one of the biggest years of their career.
This time last year Panic! were a duo, but with Brendon Urie taking complete creative control and bassist Dallon Weekes reverting to touring member status, 2016 is the first year that Panic! has existed entirely as a solo project. They're still a four piece live (the line-up rounded out by drummer Dan Pawlovich and guitarist Kenneth Harris) but, for all intents and purposes, Panic! is Brendon.
The line-up change didn't alter the live dynamic as much as I'd thought that it might. Dallon's toured with the band for seven years now, while Kenneth and Dan are both entering their third year: it means the chemistry between the members is very natural, and it's extremely comfortable to see them live. There's no animosity, no awkwardness, just pure performance... It's captivating.
It was obvious that Brendon was trying to put a distinction between 'then' and 'now', because when Brendon spoke there was a strong use of 'I' ("It's been a while since I've played this venue, it has a very special place in my heart"): perhaps this is one of the reasons there was less interaction with the crowd, but that's not a bad thing when it means getting to hear 21 songs performed.
Instead of focusing completely on the new material, the setlist was the most varied I'd experienced from any band. Including songs from all four previous releases, a non-album track and two covers, it cemented the fact that Panic! are a diverse band, but the set felt cohesive: it was utterly them.
Kicking off with 'Don't Threaten Me With A Good Time', the newest song released from 'Death of a Bachelor', you might have thought the reaction would be less than explosive - it's a brand new song! It's been only been out for a week! - but people were screaming along to every word. The same thing happened with 'LA Devotee', another fairly recent release, and if that doesn't prove 'Death of a Bachelor' is going to be a runaway success, I don't know what does.
Running through all of their greatest hits, it struck me again how brilliant Panic!'s back catalogue is. A lot of the set was predictable - 'Nine In The Afternoon' being the only inclusion from 'Pretty. Odd.', for example - but it's the little surprises that they include that make nights like this really stand out. My personal highlight was the inclusion of 'New Perspective', the song that the band wrote for the 'Jennifer's Body' soundtrack: it's always been one of my favourite songs, so hearing it live was a huge surprise.
However, the other surprising inclusion was the second cover song they performed. Their version of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' has been a staple in their set over the last year, but they followed it up with a brief cover of 'Oh! You Pretty Things', which made for a very poignant moment. David Bowie, who died earlier this week, was born in Brixton, so the fact that the band paid tribute to him in such a touching way in such a meaningful location... It was very emotional. It was made even more touching when Brendon announced that all of the proceeds from merch sales were going to Cancer Research UK: a selfless gesture that will hopefully help a lot.
While the rest of the set might have been predictable (other than the exclusion of title track 'Death of a Bachelor', which surprised me to no end - I mean, it was the album launch show after all!) that didn't make it any less fun. This is why Panic! are always going to be one of my favourite live bands: musically the band are flawless, Brendon's falsetto vocal tricks are audibly pleasing, and his momentous backflip in the middle of 'Miss Jackson' (in black leather skinny jeans, no less!) made it an entertaining show to watch, too. With all of these things combined together, and the fact that the songs are just so damned catchy... It means the time speeds past. The hour and twenty minutes of their set was probably the quickest hour and twenty minutes I'd ever experienced, and I felt myself getting completely wrapped up and absorbed in the atmosphere. The excitement for the new album was palpable, with the crowd working themselves into a frenzy throughout closer 'Emperor's New Clothes', and it was impossible not to get swept away and to become equally as excited. In fact, I came straight home and pre-ordered the album, something I hadn't even thought about doing before the show.
Panic! at the Disco have always been one of my favourite live bands, and I think they always will be. The band have gone through many incarnations, being in a completely different place than they were when I started listening to them, but one thing hasn't changed: they're still amazing. I don't think that's something that can change.

Don't Threaten Me With A Good Time
Vegas Lights
LA Devotee
Time To Dance
The Ballad of Mona Lisa
Let's Kill Tonight
Ready To Go (Get Me Out Of My Mind)
Casual Affair
Miss Jackson
Nine In The Afternoon
Bohemian Rhapsody cover
Oh! You Pretty Things cover
I Write Sins Not Tragedies
New Perspective
Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off
This Is Gospel
Emperor's New Clothes

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