Dev Test Icicle witnesses the full grandeur of the Panic! roadshow
A band like Panic! At The Disco (or P!ATD to you kids in the know) are expected to be great live. Their legions of devoted supporters would never settle for anything other than spectacular from the band who punctuate everything with an exclamation mark. Silly amounts of records sold?! Check! Four nights in a row at Brixton Carling Academy?! Check! Amphitheatre tours of America with Bloc Party supporting them?! Check! For all the adulation though, they still have one of the worst reputations within anti-emo circles, but then painting birds flying from shadowy forests across your cheek and eyes isn’t ever going to help that.
Empty apart from a small stool and an electric piano, the stage is covered in huge black curtains. As the lights drop, dramatic classical music rises over the PA – the cue for the mass of vaudevillian kids inside this venue to scream at a deafening volume. A man and two tattooed scantily-clad females all plastered in face paint run on to the stage. The man holds an empty picture frame up to his face, takes to the mic like a circus ringleader and asks: “Laaaadies and gentlemen, are yooooou ready for Panic! At The Discoooooo?” erm… definitely. When the curtains do drop they reveal a stage set with trees, a giant windmill and a flashing “Panic!” sign and on march Brendon Urie and his troops. It’d be easy enough for the band to be sloppy and let the stage show do all the work, but these boys are seriously well drilled and aren’t here to slack off.
Brendon’s voice seems in particularly good form as he camps his way across the stage. One moment he’s dragged into the dance routine action as a mime dances on his lap during [deep breath] ‘There’s A Good Reason These Tables are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought Of It Yet’. Later on he shows off what an accomplished musician he is by performing an intricate piano piece during the band’s re-working of the ‘Intermission’ from their album ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’. During ‘Camisado’ the actors bounce back onstage with elastic linked from their hands to their feet like a giant cat’s cradle, before ‘Lying Is The Most Fun…’ (etc, etc) sees the half-naked girls duelling with swords.
Then comes the nerve bomb, a cover of Radiohead’s ‘Karma Police’. Although not as horrible as you might think, there is something eerie and unnerving about barely a single person in the entire building knowing the words to the “this is what you get…” refrain. Same goes for a cover of The Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Tonight, Tonight’, and this much a testament to the youth of the crowd. To them this is dad music… dark, eh?
Not that anyone is in anything other than raptures – even if by the encore the trio of actor-slash-dancers are bugging us out (if you’re going to do such a big show you might as well hire out the whole dance troupe). But this show is an unforgettable spectacle, and for the majority of this audience quite possibly the greatest night of their lives. Not bad for a band barely out of their teens with only one album that clocks in at roughly 35 minutes. Now all they need to do is repeat that for the next three nights. Simple.