BY JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine
To say that this was a unique experience would be one hell of an understatement. I first became aware of Panic! At the Disco in 2005 when I had graduated from high school and was starting to depart from the preppy, polo wearing douche bag I was to the dyed hair, band shirt wearing douche bag that I am now. And I owe quite a bit of that to Panic! At the Disco.
See mom, it’s not just a phase! It’s a lifestyle that you just don’t understand, and here I am at 35 still fueled by the same teenage angst and rage that I was when I was…well…a teenager being captivated by this nerdy looking skinny fucker who had the audacity to ask, “Is it still me who makes you sweat? Am I who you think about in bed?” Well, that skinny fuck grew up into a full-fledged heartthrob who also somehow has perfect hair AND a perfect singing voice who sells out arenas across the globe. Rolling through the Phoenix Metro in promotion of their new album Viva Las Vengeance, Panic! At the Disco put on one hell of a blistering performance on Sunday, October 23, 2022, at the Footprint Center that won’t soon be forgotten.
To say that it was one of the most elaborate stage performances I’ve covered to date would be a severe understatement, but we’ll get to that part in a minute.
First up on the night was Jake Wesley Rogers, a bedazzling spectacle of human emotion wrapped in shimmering sequence and topped with ruby red encrusted boots. He’s what happens when Elton John and Andrew McMahon have a secret love baby that was somehow also gifted with the vocal range and tone of Sam Fender.
Who the fuck does this guy think he is anyway?
An incredibly talented and gifted musician, that’s who. From the stage, he mentioned that he grew up in the bible belt. “But I always felt like I was the rhinestone in that belt,” he added as the concert goers responded with jubilation. While I was a little disappointed that he didn’t make much use of the catwalk on the gigantic eight-foot stage, it’s understandable that being in close proximity to his white piano was a priority. Notable tracks included “Modern Love,” “Lavendar Forever,” and a well-comprised cover of “The Black Parade” by MCR.
Marina was up next, and her powerhouse vocals were accented perfectly on her rather minimal set design. And by minimal, I mean…minimal. But it was perfect, as she single-handedly transformed this elaborate set design into an intimate 1940s jazz club feel.
While she also didn’t make much use of the catwalk, she seemed to float effortlessly across the stage as she captivated the fans in her flowing pink gown. Fans belted out her lyrics back to her, as well as other antics such as one fan in the front row who shouted, “MARINA YOU’RE LITERALLY MY MOM!” in between tracks that got quite the reaction from those in the audience who could hear them. Her lyrics are filled with empowering anthems for young women, and it’s no wonder why she’s been one of the top-selling artists since she came on the scene in 2010. Notable tracks included “Froot,” “Venus Fly Trap,” and “Bubblegum Bitch.”
With a timer displayed on the giant screens with a clock counting down for 10 minutes, the stagehands rushed quickly to put the final pieces in place for Panic! At the Disco to take the stage. As the timer wound down to 0:00, the arena was blacked out, followed by intense flashes of strobes and a thick, permeating fog that oozed not only over the stage, but that filled almost the entire front half of the venue.
But then it happened.
Brendon Urie ascended from the depths and immediately began blasting the crowd with “Say Amen (Saturday Night)” even though it was a Sunday. His black jacket with gold accents was the perfect way to start this show, and the audience didn’t shut up until they covered the entirety of their new record.
Now, I’ll say this…it was a very bizarre choice, and one that might have not paid off as well for other well-known artists if they had also chosen to sing an entirely new album that their fans might have not been as familiar with. It’s true that earlier this year, Def Leppard chose to open their set with two tracks from their new record and got away with it, but they didn’t play the whole thing in its entirety.
It’s also worth noting that Panic! At the Disco has only been around for 17 years whereas Def Leppard has been around for the better part of a half century, so time will tell if this bold move paid off, but for the most part the audience hung in there as they had some sliver of hope that the older, more well-known tracks would return. At times, Urie seemed a little bored with the new tracks, and there was a tangible difference in his attitude (and jacket) when he was performing hits like, “Hey Look Ma, I Made It,” to lesser known tracks such as, “All By Yourself.”
But the waiting game paid off for the fans, who had enjoyed the likes of “This is Gospel,” and “Emperor’s New Clothes” beforehand, and were subsequently rewarded with “Death of a Bachelor,” “I Write Sins not Tragedies,” and “High Hopes” after the new album was through.
Visually it was quite the production as there were different video montages displayed for every single song that was sung, and Urie’s use of the catwalk was masterful as he effortlessly swayed up and down the stage, casually flipping his gold-tipped microphone in the air in between his hauntingly beautiful falsetto’s. The best visual of the night in my opinion came during the performance of “Girls/Girls/Boys,” where each section had a different colored heart laid on their seat that provided a rainbow effect throughout the arena when held against the flashlight in your phone while confetti splattered down on the middle section of the floor seats as the song drew to a close.
Urie proved a few things that night, the most notable being that his voice alone could carry a rather lackluster album (seriously, it doesn’t sound anything like the old Panic! stuff that we know and love) and keep the fans not only engaged, but ON THEIR FEET during the entire performance.
Secondly, he proved that he had indeed “made it” as he entertained a room filled with tens of thousands of his closest friends. Speaking of “making it,” it might be worth noting that I have a portrait of Brendon Urie tattooed on my arm, and while this may be of little consequence to you the reader, it does check this band off my bucket list.
It checks this man off my bucket list.
Look ma…I made it.
As always, a special shout out to the Footprint Center staff for working tirelessly to keep the show entertaining and safe for the patrons who flooded the doors. I know that a lot of that work is thankless and unnoticed, but without your dedicated team, shows like this wouldn’t be possible. Remember to keep being excellent to each other, to keep buying deodorant for concerts, and we’ll catch you at the next one!
Panic! At the Disco
Jake Wesley Rogers