Panic At The Disco

Panic At The Disco

Time to take these (ex-)emo princes seriously. Rock City, Nottingham (March 15)

Tonight is the last date of Panic At The Disco’s brief, low-key UK tour, and all the things people hate about them are plain to see: there’s the fact they’re young, pretty and perhaps a little over-groomed (like The Beatles); the way they at times veer close to boyband territory (like The Beatles); the fact that their every utterance makes girls scream (like The Beatles); and the songs they play from an album they’ve just made that sounds like… well, The Beatles, circa-‘Magical Mystery Tour’, and ‘…Village Green…’-era Kinks, and The Small Faces’ ‘Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake’. That last point being perhaps the biggest bugbear with their detractors, who scoff at the mere thought of a band like Panic dipping into this sacred pool of ’60s influences.

See, if you look like those two chaps on the cover of NME last week (and just how much did they look like Beatles?), are English and indie, you’re allowed. If you’re emo, used to wear make-up, had 46million people listen to your latest single on MySpace, write songs called ‘The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage’, then you ain’t. That’s why Alex’n’Miles (or indeed, Alex’s other lot) are comfortably co-opted into the oldie music mag-decreed lineage of ‘classic rock’ and Panic will never be. In fact, one of these publications ran a Monkeys piece a while ago in which the journo wrote about how, in some kind of weird induction ceremony, he’d given Alex Turner a copy of ‘Odessey & Oracle’, and when they next met, Alex said that he quite liked it. Which is nice. But the thing is, he wouldn’t need to tell Brendon Urie or Ryan Ross about said Zombies classic – they’ve had it for years, they’ve drunk it in, they’ve been inspired, they’ve sussed it out and now they’ve updated it for their own generation.

And yet the musos are still scoffing at Panic rather than inviting them into their world. None of these people are present tonight, mainly because they don’t like to be in a room full of screaming teenage girls (a bit like… oh, you get the idea). A shame, because if they were, they could’ve heard Panic At The Disco’s pinpoint accurate take on The Band’s classic ‘The Weight’. Maybe they would have realised that the glorious ‘Nine In The Afternoon’ is actually the greatest Super Furry Animals song ever, with the kind of kiddy-beat-poet couplets – “Into a place where thoughts can bloom/Into a room where it’s nine in the afternoon” – that Pete D gets praised to the skies for. Maybe they could even have looked past the admittedly at-times-over-slick vocals and enjoyed more raw-in-the-flesh takes on the likes of ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ (much more raw in the flesh) or seen out-there newies such as ‘That Green Gentlemen (Things Have Changed)’ for the perfect psych-pop nuggets they are. In fact, only a few songs from ‘Pretty. Odd.’ are played this evening, but all of them are highlights.

Tonight Panic At The Disco are preaching to the converted, a small percentage of whom may possibly soon be scared off by their idols’ sudden change in direction. Which would be a shame, but would also leave a little space at the back for some more (maybe older) open-minded folk…

Hamish MacBain