Panic! at the Disco has been in flux for the past few albums, lineup-wise; Vices and Virtues was marked by the departure of guitarist Ryan Ross and bass player Jon Walker, while Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die brought in touring bass player Dallon Weekes but was marked by the notable absence of drummer Spencer Smith. Death of a Bachelor premiered a new Panic! lineup: singer/multi-instrumentalist Brendon Urie was now the sole remaining member of the band. Urie toured smaller venues for the first time on the Death of a Bachelor tour. How would the band’s show fare in larger venues like Madison Square Garden?
Indie-pop bands Saint Motel and MisterWives opened up the show with a ton of enthusiasm; both of these acts were excited to be there, and they weren’t afraid to show it. Saint Motel provided a solid start, even if they were a bit chatty at times. MisterWives brought a whole new level of energy to the stage, with their neon stage and eager horns section. The lead singer Mandy Lee bounced all over the stage, belting out lyrics and occasionally rapping, Cher Lloyd-style. Their set closed with “Our House,” during which each member of the band took a drum to play.
After an intense ten minute countdown, Panic! at the Disco finally took the stage with a good amount of pyrotechnics under their belts. The crowd went wild as the opening bars of “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time” opened the show, and went even crazier for “L.A. Devotee,” during which Urie brought out Stranger Things star Noah Schnapp for supporting vocals on the last verse, since the young actor starred in the song’s music video.
With five studio albums worth of songs to choose from and a lead singer who can practically cover anything he sets his mind to, the setlists have been evolving at a rapid rate over the years. Songs that used to be staples, like A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’s “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Off Her Clothes” or “New Perspective” from the Jennifer’s Body soundtrack, are noticeably absent. The setlist is definitely heavy on the Death of a Bachelor tracks, but the band certainly pays homage to each era of their career. They wove together “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage,” “Camisado,” and “But It’s Better If You Do” into a medley of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out tracks, which was all the better for the brass section featured this tour. Pretty. Odd.’s “Nine in the Afternoon” received its usual spot on the playlist, while the Vices and Virtues selections were slimmed down to “Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind),” “The Ballad of Mona Lisa,” and “Let’s Kill Tonight.”
While the crowd clearly appreciated all of the songs Urie played, nothing compared to the reaction when “Hallelujah” started. Released after the announcement that Smith’s leave of absence was permanent, “Hallelujah” served as a thank you and a promise to the fans that Urie wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It was amazing to see the great reaction the latest Panic! tracks was receiving; Urie has worked hard to get where he is, and it was amazing to see that everything is coming together in such a big way for him.
For the most part, Urie tends to concentrate on vocals so he can have the full range of motion; not a concert goes by where he doesn’t do a backflip on stage. “Death of a Bachelor,” namesake of the latest album, is performed as Urie walks through the crowd, greeting fans and grasping hands. However, he does demonstrate his prowess on several different instruments throughout the show. He closed “Let’s Kill Tonight” with his usual turn on the drums, mixing the track with selections from Bruno Mars’s “24K Magic” and Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money.” Urie killed it on the piano as well, playing the gorgeous piano rendition of “This is Gospel” as well as covers of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Like so many celebrities have recently under the current administration, Urie has decided to use his platform to take a stance on things that he believes in. During “Girls/Girls/Boys,” the band’s LGBTQ+ anthem that affirms “love is not a choice,” Urie hung up a rainbow flag as fans shone their flashlights through an array of rainbow hearts. “Young people are going to change the world. There’s a revolution coming, and I can’t wait, I’m going to be right there fucking with you,” he said, looking out at the audience in awe.
Panic! at the Disco played straight through, forgoing the usual charade of an encore. “Thank you again for being here tonight, this means so much to me,” Urie said, expressing his gratitude for the opportunity and establishing that he’s been performing in Panic! at the Disco for thirteen years. He launched into “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” jokingly introducing it with a casual “This one’s brand new.” Urie has been performing this song for so long, it’s practically effortless. The show closed out with a high energy rendition of “Victorious,” a perfect for a winning night. After watching this particular show, I think it’s safe to say that Panic! at the Disco is doing better than ever.