It’s become increasingly common over the past couple of years to turn up to various arena concerts and be greeted by the fact that it’s not actually an arena show at all. From black drapes hiding various barren seating blocks or the stage being moved halfway across the arena to make you forget there’s the other half at all, last night as Panic! at The Disco brought their Pray for The Wicked tour to Arena Birmingham there were none of these concerns at all.
With a number of roads into the city blocked with people trying to get to the arena and the outside concourses full with queuing fans, as ARIZONA took to the stage, the crowd was still slowly filtering in. Signed to Atlantic Records, the band released their debut album ‘GALLERY’ in 2017, with this tour being the group’s first visit to the UK & Europe. Although having some nicely melodic songs and lead vocalist Zachary Charles doing his best to engage the growing audience, the band’s set didn’t create much excitement in their half an hour set time.
The same however cannot be said of Denmark’s MÃ˜, having recently released her second album ‘Forever Neverland’ and acting as main support for the evening’s show. Already having the benefit of being familiar to the majority of the audience through heavy radio play in this country, MÃ˜’s set felt more like a festival slot than a support slot that she had to work hard at. Backed by an impressive evolving backdrop and band, the Danish singer performed hits such as ‘Final Song’ & ‘Lean On’ with bundles of energy and impressive vocals.
With a countdown from 10 minutes blaring across the giant screens adorning the back of the stage, it was clear that PATD were planning to make a huge impression on the city and boy did that come true. Blasting out of the stage like a crumpet on a Sunday morning, Brendon Urie took the next 2 hours to show Birmingham a masterclass in entertainment, song writing and falsetto vocals.
Now as the only full-time member of the band, Urie was backed by a guitarist and bassist as well as a trio of brass and trio of string players who perfectly meandered between their moments in the spotlight and hiding in the shadows. But let’s be clear this was certainly the Urie show, and his creative vision and talent were on show for all to see.
From taking to the skies on a sparkling white piano on ‘Dying In LA’ to turning the Arena Birmingham into a giant pride flag for ‘Girls/Girls/Boys’, as well as being backed by retina burning visuals and actual burning fire throughout, let’s not forget that it’s the songs that have allowed him to be in this position.
Starting off as a theatrical emo troupe, of which ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ & ‘Nine in The Afternoon’ were the only cuts to make the show, the band’s style has evolved over the years to make them become a crowd pleasing, inventive and vital pop rock band.
But it’s not just the band’s own material that was drawn upon, with the now anticipated ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ as well as a show stopping rendition of ‘The Greatest Show’ that will surely give Hugh Jackman a run for his money when he performs it in the city later this year.
It’s clear that the band have come such a long way from being bottled at Reading Festival all those years ago and that’s a credit to the fantastic showmanship, resilience and artistic nature of Urie.
Hey look ma, he’s made it.
Review: Dan Earl
Photo: Adriana Vasile