Panic! At The Disco – High Hopes – but lacking in hits

It’s a bold move to play an album in full. And yet, that’s precisely what Brendon Urie decided to do for his Panic! At The Disco show at London’s O2 arena, diligently working his way down the Viva Las Vengeance track list for the main chunk of the show.

While there’s no doubt the 2022 album is a gooddun, hearing it in full completely snuffed out the vibe. 

But I get it. 

Earlier this year, when Brendon announced he was ending Panic! At the Disco to focus on his family, with a new baby on the way, it came as a huge blow for fans. 

Indeed this is the last tour for the band who formed almost 20 years ago, back in 2004. 

Although I use the word ‘band’ loosely, as, after various line up changes and departures, it is only Brendon who remains. 

This tour is his last hurrah, and the only chance for Viva Las Vengeance to have it’s time in the sun. 

However, choosing to do this meant the show was a tale of two halves. Or more accurately, while less verbally pleasing, three thirds. 

The sold out O2 show – the first of two – started strong, with Say Amen (Saturday Night), Hey Look Ma, I Made It and Emperor’s New Clothes. It was part emo, part 80s glam rock. There was fire, confetti and background visuals more colourful than a Lush bath bomb.

The crowd – the majority aged millennial emos like myself – lapped it up. 

Brendon has one of the best voices in the industry. It’s smooth yet dirty, with more than just a touch of musical theatre. I loved the jazzy rat pack feel to Death of a Batchelor. 

Teaming his military style jackets with impressive falsetto, it was as if Freddie mercury went to Vegas. But then came Viva, and I wasn’t the only one who took a trip (okay, several) to the bar.

By the time the last bars of the aptly named Do It To Death resided, even the hardcore fans didn’t care. Brendon needed a miracle. And it came, in the form of The Last Third. 

A seven-strong line-up of Panic!’s biggest hits, they came one after the other – House of Memories, Nine in the Afternoon, Victorious – like a musical espresso, waking the sleeping crowd back up again. 

I Write Sins Not Tragedies sounded as good in 2023 as it did two decades ago, although I’m aghast as to why it was the only track from their debut album to make it onto the set.  

Where was Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off? These were the songs that made you famous, Brendon. Fall Out Boy would never. 

A man of surprisingly few words, for most of the show he matched the show: clinical and efficient, but unemotional.

But during the last third Brendon began to enjoy himself, even grabbing a beer. 

“I’m celebrating,” 35-year-old Brendon told the crowd. “I’m so happy to be here and I’m so happy that you are here.

“This 19 year ride, it’s been absolutely amazing. If you’re new, welcome, and farewell.” 

Ending on High Hopes, undoubtedly Panic!’s biggest global hit, Brendon left the crowd wanting more. 

Sadly they won’t get it. 

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