Words by Angela Rose Asuncion / Photography by Chony Musson
Lights. Camera. Action. Panic! At The Disco brought their Pray for the Wicked tour to our corner of the world for one night only and oh boy did they bring it. The night fell nothing short of a standing ovation. With the energy that only P!ATD could bring, they smashed out an incredibly impressive 27 song set that showcased every stage of their 14-year evolution of musicality and style – from emp to pop punk, alternative rock to emo pop and everything in between. But, at the core of P!ATD is the big band sounds and the theatrics (aside from the last original member standing – frontman Brendon Urie), staying true to their beginnings and never failing to please fans.
The time came where the lights dimmed and the room was filled with a pulsating synth-bass continuum and as if rehearsed, the crowd roared in unison. The energy of local Auckland band Openside opened up the night and hyped up the crowd instantly. Their enigmatic set was thoroughly impressive and the crazy good vibes of the band radiated through the crowd. Their set was an array of new and a few older classics, a solid cover of Major Lazer’s Lean On then getting everyone to dance while they ended on banger I Feel Nothing.
The crowd was left buzzing in anticipation for P!ATD. With 10 minutes to spare the countdown begun – literally on the big screen. In the final few minutes, Africa by Toto blared, the perfect track to get the crowds spirits in good stead as everyone joined in – and they were well and truly fuelled and ready for more.
The countdown hit zero and the distinctive theatrical sounds of P!ATD ripped through the air and there they were in all their glory, ready to give the crowd their all. A simple stage set-up was revealed, adorned with a three-piece horn and string section and a grand piano sitting proud on top – the foundations for the trademark sounds of P!ATD. The simple set-up paved way to feature the impressive lighting and projections/graphics that would paint the stage creating theatrics and drama, an authentic signature of P!ATD and the perfect backdrop for Brendon Urie’s almost supernatural vocal talents.
They started off strong and with (F*ck A) Silver Lining that no doubt set the vibe strong for the rest of the night and not one person on stage faltered even for a second.
With a shout out to his momma, he took to stage with Hey Look Ma, I Made It showing off some fancy footwork as the hook carried us through with Brendon’s vocals, crisp and clear. After a taste of their new found pop sounds, the P!ATD baroque pop period made an appearance with the classic orchestral theatrics of Hallelujah.
The stroll through memory lane continued as Brendon took his place behind the grand piano and threw us all back to 2008 with Nine in the Afternoon. The waves of nostalgia overwhelmed the (few) fellow hyper-adults in the crowd and for those newly initiated into the fandom, then brought to the stage of their latest dancing hit, Dancing’s Not A Crime, which is a track that could make even the most cynical get off their seat and rock out with the band.
Fourteen songs down and the crowd was due for a breather. Brendon paused and thanked the crowd for being there as he made his way again to the grand piano, where he sat so comfortably and shared memories from his youth about his mother playing him the piano to calm him down as a hyperactive child. But now as a self-proclaimed ‘hyper-adult’, he had to learn to play it himself. This song was none other than Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me, for sure making the heart of everyone in the crowd melt. His beautiful rendition was flawlessly interwoven into their latest slow ballad, Dying in LA.
But that was as melancholy as it would get for the night, and their energy picked up again with Girls/Girls/Boys and colours filled the arena once again. Brendon was wrapped in the pride flag as more and more were thrown and scattered across the stage. It was a moment of utter liberation as the crowd once again got on their feet and continued to dance the night away.
From here on out it was one banger after the next with a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s classic Girls Just Wanna Have Fun as an ode to Brendon’s role in Kinky Boots. Followed by some newer numbers like High Hopes’ and King of the Cloud (from their latest album, Pray For the Wicked).
A pinnacle was reached when “the best song ever, conceived by the best man in the world” was covered – none other than Bohemian Rhapsody. Known to be one of the hardest songs to take on and held in high esteem by many musicians, full of constantly changing time signatures and a vocal range covering three octaves, the band channelled the spirit of Queen and the vocal capabilities of Brendon shone through (and would’ve certainly made Freddie Mercury proud!).
As a last hurrah for the screaming crowds, they came back for their encore with their latest hit single, Say Amen (Saturday Night), bringing everyone up to their feet partying like it was a Saturday (despite it being a Tuesday). Then, they took us back to the good old days with the song that started it all – I Write Sins Not Tragedies.
Their performance was nothing short of wicked. It was theatrical and grand in a way only Brendon Urie and the band can bring forth. From the musicality and the signature use of orchestral sounds to the technicality of the lighting and staging, it was so intricate, and so. goddamn. entrancing.
- (F*ck A) Silver Lining
- Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time
- Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)
- Hey Look Ma, I Made It
- LA Devotee
- The Ballad of the Mona Lisa
- Nine in the Afternoon
- Golden Days
- Casual Affair
- Vegas Lights
- Dancing’s Not a Crime
- This is Gospel
- Death of a Bachelor
- I Can’t Make You Love Me / Dying in LA
- Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
- High Hopes
- Miss Jackson
- King of the Clouds
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- Emperor’s New Clothes
- (Say Amen) Saturday Night
- I Write Sins Not Tragedies