Panic! At The Disco – O2 Academy Brixton (12th January 2016) – LIVE REVIEW

This Panic! At the Disco article was written by Jamie Muir, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Fraisia Dunn. Photo by Phillip Jenkins.

Back on October 21st 2006, Panic! At The Disco rolled into Brixton Academy fresh from their explosive debut album ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’ that rocketed the Las Vegas pop-punk starlets into the cultural mainstream. Rocking more eyeliner than a Victoria Secret’s show, their dramatic show left teenage girls with shattered vocal chords and an army of devoted fans wanting more. What followed was an off-kilter second record, a deteriorating lineup and a slow fade from the limelight, as the neon signs that once shone bright with their name slowly dwindled in the face of new, fresh-faced pinups. Almost ten years on from that breathtaking headline show, Panic! finally returned to the hallowed halls of Brixton Academy, emerging from a career renaissance over the past few months that has seen acclaimed performances at Reading & Leeds and a slew of well-received new tracks from upcoming fifth LP ‘Death Of A Batchelor’.

If there ever was an award for the most debonaire yet playful frontman of a modern rock act, then Brendon Urie would have it. Standing as the only creative force behind Panic!, his live performance has slowly graduated into a crowd-pleasing array of self-projection. Tonight, he’s no different, igniting a torrent of screams when arriving on stage and cascading straight into new single ‘Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time’ that cause the Brixton masses to erupt. He bounces and swaggers across the stage, captivating with a powerful vocal performance that electrifies and stuns the at-capacity Academy in equal measure. Drawing in hits from across their career, the seismic reactions to classic anthems ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ and ‘Nine In The Afternoon’ remain at ear-piercing level, delivered in the same fashion as they would of all those years ago.

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However it’s within their most recent material that Panic! shine, with a set leaning on cuts from 2013’s ‘Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die’ and the forthcoming ‘Death Of A Batchelor’, a track that portrays an act who’s experimentation and creativity has ultimately payed dividends. Tracks such as ‘Vegas Lights’, ‘Girls / Girls / Boys’, ‘Victorious’ and ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ are all greeted with euphoric singalongs, signifying the final transition from teen-pop scream sensations into a reputable creative force in modern rock. An emotional tribute to David Bowie (Panic!’s show being the first at the venue since the Brixton native passed) morphs into a mass celebration with Queen’s ‘Bohemion Rhapsody’ falling into ‘Oh You Pretty Things’, and from there the night is sealed.

Not many acts can return from a career downturn in the manner in which Panic! At The Disco have. Tonight was a truly defining evening celebrating the creative re-birth of Brendon Urie, accepting and expanding from the pop-punk past that made him a star into a modern pop Svengali unafraid to experiment and develop the electronic soundscapes that have defined recent Panic! releases. Visibly moved throughout, it’s clear that Urie never expected to see this moment come again, and he’s grabbing it with both hands. Much like his idol Frank Sinatra, in front of a crowd he’s untouchable, and if the reaction to ‘Death Of A Batchelor’ is this feverish before its release, then the sky’s the limit for the ultimate Las Vegas showman.

Panic! At the Disco