Panic! at the Disco brought their wicked ways to Melbourne Arena on Saturday. STACK was there to soak it all in.

The anticipation leading up to Panic! at the Disco’s entrance onto the stage at Melbourne Arena was unfathomable. Swarms of fans clamoured towards the entrances of the venue like ants ravaging for dropped crumbs, while an almost perpetual sound of excited shrieking filled the air – and that was before the 10-minute countdown for the show’s beginning was suddenly displayed on the massive screens stage-side.

As the singalongs for Toto’s Africa being played over the PA came to an end, the room went completely dark save for spotlights highlighting the entrance of the backing band (consisting of long-time drummer Dan Pawlovich, newcomers Nicole Row and Mike Naran as well as a stellar mini-orchestra of brass and string sections to add some instrumental authenticity to the onslaught of massive hits coming up).

As Brendan Urie, the only remaining official member of the band, jogged onto the stage to kick off (F*** a) Silver Lining, the screams of the crowd reached a seemingly unbeatable pitch – until Urie’s various falsetto vocal harmonies soon gave them a run for their money.

Urie and company treated the audience to almost two hours of the biggest Panic! hits from over the years, with the bulk of the setlist consisting of songs from the post-emo phase of their last three albums. This included such tracks as This Is Gospel, Hallelujah, Death of a Bachelor, High Hopes and Say Amen (Saturday Night).

While older fans may have been disappointed to only hear a handful of songs from the band’s first few albums, (such as The Ballad of Mona Lisa, Nine in the Afternoon and their breakthrough hit I Write Sins Not Tragedies), it’s clear that the Panic! demographic has drastically changed over time –  the vast majority of the crowd were more reactive to the newer, more pop-oriented tunes.

However, perhaps to satisfy yearnings for pre-2010’s music, there were covers of some all-time classic songs, including Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun and, as Urie described it, “the single greatest song ever conceived” in Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

Panic! at the Disco drew us in with the promise of a mixture of fun, boppy new tunes and a hit of nostalgia for MySpace era throwbacks, and kept us captivated throughout with incredible musicianship and a nice dose of visual flair. When a dad that obviously got roped into taking his two daughters to the gig a couple rows ahead turns to them midway through the set with a smile indicating “Not bad”, you know you’ve done well, Urie.

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