Brendon Urie Is The Greatest Showman Panic At The Disco Slays The Forum On Pray for The Wicked Winter Tour
LOS ANGELES, CA- Back in 2005, Panic! At The Disco released A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Brendon Urie and company were fresh out of high school and recorded the album on what was then considered a “small budget”. But small budget or not, and despite how polarizing the music was in the eyes of critics at the time, A Fever has stood the test of time. I bought the album when it was released, and I still try, despite the flurry of lyrics, to sing along to “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” whenever it plays.
On the opening track of A Fever, “The Only Difference Between Martydom and Suicide Is Press Coverage”, Brendon’s youthful search of identity in the music industry is expressed with the lyrics, “We’re still so young, desperate for attention […] I’ve an announcement to make, It seems the artists these days are not who you think. So we’ll pick back up on that on another page.” Six studio albums later, it’s clear we are on that page now, and the title on the top of that page reads: “The Greatest Showman”.
Brendon’s (now Panic!’s only official member) musical foray into the grand and theatrical was always present, but it really started to take shape in the early 2010s, an recently affirmed in his stand-out cover of “The Greatest Show” from the musical motion picture “The Greatest Showman”.
The release of the The Greatest Showman: Reimagined compilation album was subsequent to the release of Panic!’s sixth studio album Pray For The Wicked. Written before and throughout Brendon’s starting stint in the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, Pray For The Wicked was release June 22, 2018, and became Panic!’s second US number-one album selling the equivalent of 180,000 albums; an impressive feat in today’s music market. Like the recent “The Greatest Show”, Pray For The Wicked embodies the bold theatrical musicality and lyricism that Brendon has fostered over the years.
Touring in support of the album, Panic! stopped by The Forum in Los Angeles and brought that dramatic musicality to life.
Brendon’s charisma on stage is undeniable. From the first moments of the performance when he was jetted into the air from under the floor to a single spotlight centerstage, to dancing with flames that surrounded him to crooning to an adoring crowd from a suspended grand piano, there was nary a moment when you couldn’t feel his aura consume the room.
While his setlist served to highlight almost all of the songs from Pray For The Wicked, he made sure to satiate most of his fan’s musical cravings. With a setlist of 28 songs, the odds were good that you are at least a couple of your favorite tunes from Panic’s earlier repertoire. While they only played on song from A Fever, a healthy dollop of songs from the other albums made the set including “This is Gospel”, “Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Ballad Of Mona Lisa”, “Death Of A Bachelor”, “Nine In The Afternoon”. They even played “The Greatest Show”.
But perhaps one of the more memorable moments of the concert that occurred happened after Brendon walked the length of the venue to sit at a white baby grand piano near the back of the room. He spoke about about how when he was younger he always hated learning how to play instruments lessons to learn how to play a song on an instrument unless he like the song. He then reminisced about how his mother his mother always played Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, then dove into a tender cover of the same. As he started to play and sing, the piano began to elevate from its resting place to slowly float back towards the main stage.
Another powerful moment during the performance was during the performance of “Girls/Girls/Boys”. Carefully placed on all 17,505 seats of the forum was a paper-heart which had printed on it a message that read “Love is not a choice!” and to “Hold up and shine your flashlight or phone through during “Girl/Girls/Boys” in support of the P!ATDHEARTS project. The Panic! at the Disco rainbow hearts project was started by two girls named Eva and Briar to “spread love and acceptance and unite the Panic! fandom to celebrate everyone’s mutual love of music as well as everyone’s diversity in sexuality, race, religion, background, etc.” Watching the lights illuminate the room was a powerful image especially as Brendon received multiple rainbow flags from the audience which he proudly draped around his shoulders until he playfully joked that the flags were getting to heavy to wear.
Towards the end of the performance, during the encore, Brendon took another moment to reminiscence, noting that there was a time in his life when he couldn’t have even fathomed being on The Forum stage performing to such a loving crowd. He earnestly proclaimed that it was because of his fans that he was able to live out this dream.
He concluded his performance with the song that got Panic! on the map to begin with, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”, and “Victorious”, and I tried singing along to his music, like he did to the songs of Blink 182 when he was growing up. Even though I still butcher the lyrics as badly as ever, I was comforted to hear everyone else singing along, drowning out my blunders. That sense of security and joy through music was quite overwhelming, and was all instilled by the evening’s ringmaster, the greatest showman, Mr. Brendon Urie.