Brendon Urie makes a stadium of 18,000 people feel small.
Pop-rock band Panic! at the Disco is currently on a tour of the United States for their 2018 album, “Pray for the Wicked.” Frontman Urie, along with the band’s three touring members, took the stage at the Honda Center on Thursday night for the Los Angeles leg of the tour. The band played a whopping total of 28 songs ranging from early hits to a re-imagination of “The Greatest Show.” As Urie danced across the stage, belting out countless high notes, it became clear that he truly is the greatest showman.
Before Panic! performed, engaging openers Betty Who and Two Feet each took the stage. The lights faded out after both sets were complete, and a 10-minute countdown clock appeared on the screens – the main event was about to begin. When the clock struck zero, Urie was rocketed out from a trap door in the stage and started the show with an immediately upbeat energy. White streamers shot across the crowd, and Urie sang “(Fuck a) Silver Lining,” waving out to onlookers.
Urie strutted across the stage in a gold suit as he exhibited his outstanding performance ability with falsettos high enough to break glass. Ten songs into the show, after playing classic hits such as “LA Devotee” and “Nine in the Afternoon,” Panic! blessed the audience with one of their less mainstream songs, “Casual Affair.” Urie’s raw vocal talent lent him the ability to capture the vulnerable essence of the band’s slower song as a flood of green lasers surrounded him in a circle and projected over the heads of the crowd. Urie dancing and laughing with the bass and lead guitar players throughout this first half of the set showed a fun camaraderie about them that made the experience all the more personal.
Although the colossal venue had almost every seat filled, Panic! found a way to make each fan feel special. During “Dancing’s Not A Crime,” numerous fans were projected onto the stage screens as they grooved along with the song, and Urie took time to point to and acknowledge a fan holding up a light-up sign. But the ultimate audience interaction was yet to come.
Urie did his signature walk through the crowd as he sang his 2016 hit “Death of a Bachelor.” The performance made it even clearer how much the singer loves and appreciates admirers, Urie smiling ear to ear while he hugged and high-fived some of them in the audience. The spectacle of a concert culminated in a single, small but important moment as I experienced the miracle up-close, reaching out for Urie’s hand from the seated section to the side of the floor.
Urie then made his way back to the stage while performing a mashup of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and one of the band’s originals, “Dying in LA,” playing a grand piano that hovered over the crowd members’ heads suspended by wires. The singer gently played the keys and sang the slow and emotional song, before standing up on the platform to wave to people sitting in the highest nosebleed seats.
And then came a shift in gears from slow ballads to the upbeat tune of “Girls/Girls/Boys.” Urie picked up pride flags from the audience and wore them around his neck. The crowd then lit up in a rainbow as audience members shone their lights through cut-out paper hearts distributed before the show by the fans who started the #PATDhearts project. The fans’ positive energy and goal of inclusivity made out to be one of the most memorable parts of the “Pray for the Wicked” tour. The moment they created was a heartwarming experience that strengthened the band’s preconceived stance as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community.
24 songs into the set and a backflip off a drum set later, Urie took on the ultimate challenge of covering Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He made the high notes throughout the song sound effortless and gained obvious approval from the crowd, who loudly sang the lyrics along with him.
Just when the show seemed over, Urie confidently and playfully emerged shirtless from the stage for the band’s planned encore. The three songs ended with Urie giving a funny, yet endearingly inspirational message for the crowd to take home with them.
“It’s astronomically ridiculous and insane and amazing that any of us were born. You had to race millions of tadpoles to the finish line, and the only reason you’re here on this planet is because you already got first place,” Urie said. “I’m so glad you guys won – you’re No. 1 in my heart.”
A final explosion of confetti brought the show to a close. With a strong mix of crowd interaction, conversations with the audience, songs and visuals, Panic! at the Disco has fully nailed the concert game. And they certainly left with more than “High Hopes” that their performance left concert-goers with a show they would remember for years to come.