Panic! At the Disco don’t panic under pressure in Boston

A review of Panic! At the Disco at the House of Blues on January 31, 2014

, Contributing Writer

Holy exclamation points, Batman!  Pop punk favorites Panic! At the Disco rolled into Boston’s House of Blues last Thursday for a party promoting their fourth album Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!. Led by eccentric frontman Brendon Urie, the band packed a set filled with cuts from the new album that were mostly well received by the jubilant capacity crowd.

Pressing towards the stage from the beginning of the set, the crowd formed underneath the venue’s gorgeous stage, adorned with images representing various world religions, centered around an image that declares “All are one – who do you love?” For at least the next ninety minutes, it was clear that the crowd loved Urie, who has been outspoken about leaving the Mormon church and professing music as his religion.

The Las Vegas-bred frontman brought a touch of his hometown to his wardrobe, donning a sparkly gold leather jacket and black leather pants to complement his resonant, haunting vocals. The man was born to entertain and was a firecracker from the start of the show as he stormed the stage and set the crowd into a frenzy for set opener “Vegas Lights”, the first of several crowd-pleasers from the band’s new album Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!.

The set raced on through a massive performance of their classic “Time to Dance”, flooding the venue with overwhelming red light. “Ballad of Mona Lisa”, with its’ creepy xylophone intro, was the perfect bridge to “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage”, which features arguably the best hook of their entire catalog.  The band sounded incredibly tight on the track, notably bassist Dallon Weekes, but Urie clearly mailed it in on the rangy high notes in the chorus, preferring to save his vocal cords for the rest of the set.

Midway through the show, Urie took measures to keep the crowd entertained, clearly understanding the flow of the set.  Towards the end of “Let’s Kill Tonight”, the singer showed his diversity, momentarily bumping the drummer off his kit and hopping in for a drum fill that was well received.  Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!’s lead single “Miss Jackson” was arguable the crowd favorite of the evening, as the crowd froze in place for an extended period of time in front of a red backdrop, which left the crowd stopped in suspense.  But it was another new single in “This is Gospel” that proved to be the best of the night.  Before a backdrop of cathedral windows, the songs made excellent use of auto-tune on the chorus, while Urie coolly played a white Telecaster.

The main set closed with an extremely questionable choice of “Nearly Witches”, a slow, strange choice that left the band awkwardly walking off the stage to few cheers after being adored for well over an hour. They would have been much better off closing with “But It’s Better If You Do” that preceded it, which had a noticeable energy and a massive, poppy hook in the chorus that would’ve been a perfect walk-off moment.

Urie reappeared for the two-song encore shirtless, a cheap though effective ploy to reenergize the crowd after the near train-wreck that closed the main set.  A pretty average rendition of “Girls/Girls/Boys” got things going. The band tried to spice things up with racy images of shadows behind shower curtains racing across the video screen, but to no avail.  Only moments later, during the fan favorite set closer “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”, irony swept in as panic literally overtook the disco.  Halfway through the track, Urie cut the song short mid-sentence, which many first thought to be some sort of gimmick from the crowd reactions. Urie hushed the crowd and his bandmates to call in medics to attend to a girl in the front row who had gone down and was convulsing on the floor.  After a frenzied time of confusion and getting the girl the help she needed, Urie exclaimed “thank f—ing God” before returning to the regularly scheduled programming.

After ensuring the girl was safe, the band made amends for the situation by pleasing the crowd with teasers of Journey’s “Any Way You Want It” and AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”, which sounded surprisingly strong given that they clearly weren’t in the original plans for the evening. A restart of “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” closed the show, featuring an extended crowd sing-along and a backflip off a stage monitor from Urie that left the crowd satisfied.

While one can argue how much shelf life remains for Panic! At The Disco, Thursday’s show in Boston proved that as long as Brendon Urie is at the helm, the band will continue to shine, lasers, sparkles, vocals and all.

1.Vegas Lights
2. Time to Dance
3. The Ballad of Mona Lisa
4. The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage
5. Let’s Kill Tonight
6. This is Gospel
7. Camisado
8. Hurricane
9. New Perspective
10. Casual Affair
11. Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)
12. Miss Jackson
13. Nine in the Afternoon
14. The End of All Things
15. Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off
16. Nicotine
17. But It’s Better If You Do
18. Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met…)
19. Girls/Girls/Boys
20. I Write Sins Not Tragedies

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