Going to see Panic! At The Disco is always an interesting experience. The first time I saw them almost five years ago they were in full make-up and top hats surrounded by circus performers. The next two times they were in jeans and check shirts. And I suppose this parallels the vast differences between their first two albums.
With album three, Vices And Virtues, a lot more Fever than Odd it’s unsurprising that last night’s Shepherd’s Bush outing brings bowties, suspenders and skinny suits. For Paul, who had never seen them before the combination of instant fashion-gasm and some pretty enthusiastic performance makes it a great show but I’m less convinced.
Because I miss Ryan Ross.
For those who don’t know in 2009 the original Panic! split in two with Singer, Brandon Urie and drummer, Spencer Smith continuing on as Panic! and guitarist, Ryan Ross, and bassist, Jon Walker, leaving to starting the Young Veins.
The split has definitely changed things. Panic! traded on the chemistry between lifelong friends Urie and Ross and without that it’s unquestionably the Brandon Urie show and he’s loving it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but the band feels a bit unbalanced. The two charisma-free automatons that are filling the empty spots aren’t really bringing anything special to the party.
Added to this the song-writing has suffered. With Ross no longer holding the pen Vices And Virtues isn’t bad but it has neither the morbid melodrama of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out nor the psychedelic folksy buzz of Pretty Odd.
The gig makes it very clear that the split was down to creative differences. Urie relies heavily on Fever and Vices and only makes a nod to Pretty Odd by reluctantly playing Nine In The Afternoon and This Green Gentleman about an hour in. The irony is that it’s Ross’ rambling Beatlesesque tunes that provide the best showcase for Urie’s extraordinary voice.
All of that said there are some glorious moments. Camisado has the audience in a froth (possibly because Urie is demanding nudity) and Kill Tonight is the highlight of the songs from Vices, with Urie’s frenzied dancing being matched by the crowd. The now customary cover version is How Soon Is Now? and despite Paul’s assertations that no one should ever cover The Smiths, even he has to admit that Urie has the voice for it.
I leave satisfied but unsure. Maybe it’s time to go and check out the Young Veins.