Hurtling through a door in the stage amidst shiny bands of confetti to the accompaniment of an orchestra, playing piano soaring high above the crowd and belting out a duet with a beloved iconic musician would seem like a lifetime achievement for some. For Panic! At the Disco’s front man Brendon Urie, it is just another Friday night.
On a steamy hot summer evening on Long Island, Urie and company swung by NYCB Live to share with fans a night of spectacle and fantastic music on the first leg of their “Pray for the Wicked Tour” sweeping across North America. Supporting the sixth studio album by the same name that launched in late June, the tour will kick off a second leg in January with opener Two Feet.
Formed in 2004 in Las Vegas by Urie, Ryan Ross, Spencer Smith and Brent Wilson, P!ATD has not been without some internal strife and drama played out publicly. Fast forward to 2018 with Urie as the only founding and official member of the band which now features guitarist Kenneth Harris, drummer Dan Pawlovich and bassist Nicole Row. Loyal fans fill the arenas each night and support has never been stronger for this band that once opened and toured with bands like Motion City Soundtrack, Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, Dashboard Confessional, Weezer and more. Headlining suits them.
With enjoyable though brief sets by A R I Z O N A and Hayley Kiyoko, the excitement in the vast venue was palpable. P!ATD have learned to mine the crowd and extract their energy, employing tools like a countdown clock projected onto the screen. An orchestra, bathed in blue light, began to play when the clock hit zero, setting the tone. The theatricality fits the band well and Urie is the ultimate ringmaster, exploding up through a trap door on the stage as strands of streamers swirl around him, wasting no time and launching into “(Fuck A ) Silver Lining.”
Urie has been influenced by a plethora of iconic musicians like Frank Sinatra, Queen, David Bowie, Green Day, Weezer and My Chemical Romance. His stage work reflects nuances of all but at the heart of it, the show is all him and completely original. Fans were treated to a jukebox of Panic hits, from brand new songs like “Hallelujah,” “LA Devotee” and “Emperor’s New Clothes” to classics including “Nine in the Afternoon” and “Miss Jackson.” After “Death of a Bachelor,” Urie left the stage and headed to the opposite side of the venue through the crowd, to a waiting piano, where he covered Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and going right into “Dying in LA” as the piano lifted off over the swooning crowd.
Another magical moment for fan participation came when Urie addressed the crowd about pride as the audience held paper pride hearts up under rainbow lights and went wild when the band started to play the anthemic “Girls/ Girls/ Boys.”
But the clear show stopper came in the form of iconic singer/ songwriter Cyndi Lauper joining the band on stage. Urie starred as Charlie Price on Broadway in Kinky Boots, where he met Lauper, who wrote the music and lyrics for the show. The venue shook as the duo played a raucous version of Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
Encores included “Say Amen (Saturday Night),” “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and “Victorious.” Victorious is one word to describe the brilliant show that left the audience both spent and energized, but most of all, thankful for the experience.
Photos by Christine Connallon