After releasing their critically lauded fifth album ‘Death of a Bachelor’ in January, Panic! at the Disco bring its huge choruses to Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.
The queue snakes around the Motorpoint Arena, with many fans showing up early to bag their spot down the front. The area around the entrance is carnage, with sleeping bags, tents and umbrellas abandoned by those diehards who staked out their position for the whole day.
Inside, the cavernous venue is rammed, Panic! inspiring a fervent devotion in their fans. The mostly teenage crowd responds enthusiastically to openers Tigertown, clapping along with the Australians’ stadium synth-pop.
But it’s when Panic! hit the stage that the arena truly erupts. The screams are deafening as the four piece (backed by a brass section) kick off with ‘Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time’, propelled by a ‘Rock Lobster’-sampled guitar riff.
The set focuses on material released after the band’s 2009 schism, after which lead singer Brendon Urie took on songwriting duties. While he is clearly more comfortable performing his own songs, a few older hits are sprinkled over the evening, sending the crowd boiling over into a frenzy. One reveller is visibly shaking as Panic! tear into the testosterone-fuelled ‘Time to Dance’.
Now the only original member left in Panic!, Urie is a man of innumerable talents, indulging in piano and guitars alongside his trademark vocal histrionics. Mid-set he begins to show off, following a perfect backflip during ‘Miss Jackson’ up with a drum duel against the band’s percussionist.
Panic!’s showboating would probably be grating if they weren’t so damned good at everything they try their hand at. While it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, covering ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is far easier said than done. But they manage it flawlessly, not missing a beat or a falsetto harmony.
Like Queen, Panic! aim for the rafters with every song. On ‘Death of a Bachelor’ Urie perfected his own brand of mongrel electro-big band pop-rock, and the choruses soar around the vast arena. The likes of ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Golden Days’ become euphoric singalongs, the adolescent devotees drowning out the band themselves.
After a tumultuous version of hit ‘I Write Sins, Not Tragedies’, Panic! appropriately bow out to pump-up anthem ‘Victorious’ having smashed any lingering doubts about their ability to own an arena stage.
‘Death of a Bachelor’ is available now on Fueled by Ramen.
(Photo credits Ellie Mitchell and Jake Chamseddine)