Panic! at the Disco at the O2 Arena
Just shy of the beginning of their 2023 Europe and the UK tour – their first in four years – pop icons Panic! at the Disco announced it would be their last. Ready to go out with a bang, the band bring their Viva Las Vengeance showcase to two nights at the O2 Arena.
Blaring strobe lights announce frontman Brendon Urie and his live musicians to the stage as they delve straight into some of the strongest tracks from their repertoire. Say Amen (It’s Saturday Night) provides an invigorating opener and sets the tone, followed by the glorious Hey Look Ma, I Made It. The group put on a spectacularly theatrical display, no detail spared for their final offering as a huge lighting rig, pyro and lasers illuminate the stage. The frontman, meanwhile, delivers a performance only somebody with an 18-year history onstage can pull off: sleek, polished and self-indulgently delightful. His voice is captivating, a talent that demands to be appreciated; the ability to manipulate his vocals, from glass-shattering falsetto to deep and grizzly, is undeniably impressive.
Split into three sections, the middle of the show is dedicated to Panic!’s latest release, Viva Las Vengeance. A dramatic 13-track Queen-esque record, it is presented in full before a backdrop of theatre-inspired visuals. It feels like a Vegas residency, a nice nod to the frontman’s Nevada roots, though it’s a bold choice to perform the entirety of the album in order (a record older fans attending for a bit of nostalgia may not be familiar with). At points, the songs get a little repetitive, but the production and Urie’s incredible vocal range ensure the result is never boring. Don’t Let the Light Go Out is a refreshing highlight – a pleading ballad with stripped-back staging accompanied by a sea of lit-up phones.
The final hurrah is once again reserved for some of the greatest hits. A fan project turns the crowd into a giant rainbow for favourite Girls/Girls/Boys, while the arena erupts for 2006 hit I Write Sins Not Tragedies. Undoubtedly their best-known and loved release, it has been a staple on many playlists in the 17 years since its appearance and shows no sign of wavering. The impassioned crowd belts out every word, much to the joy of Urie. Throughout the night, one thing is clear: the Vegas native is having the time of his life and so are the fans who’ve travelled to spend a Monday evening in his presence.
There will never be another group like Panic! at the Disco. As members have come and gone throughout its almost two-decade existence, it is the band’s eclectic and genre-bending catalogue that keeps the fans coming – alongside Urie’s magnificent showmanship, of course. The announcement of its ending may have been a shock to many but there is a sense of “it’s time” tonight. As the house lights go up on one of Panic! at the Disco’s last UK shows, it is a dignified bow out for sole remaining member Brendon Urie. A night to remember and a farewell party fit for pop rock royalty.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Panic! at the Disco’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Don’t Let the Light Go Out here: