LIVE REVIEW: Panic! At The Disco, FLETCHER, Utilita Arena, Birmingham, 04/03/2023
Photo Credit: Caitlyn Ebsworthy
As the curtain comes to close on one of pop-rocks most notable graduates we took a trip to Utilita Arena Birmingham to watch not only one of Panic at the Disco’s final Viva Las Vengeance Tour dates but one of their final ever performances.
One of the most exciting prospects of this evening’s show was getting to see FLETCHER; the support on the UK/Europe leg. Although, FLETCHER may not be the usual sound we review at BTN UK, with her edging into the pop realm, her stage presence is nothing less than that of a rockstar. Performing some of her more recent material from debut album Girl of My Dreams, FLETCHER seemed confident to playfully invite the audience to laugh at her dramas surrounding her ex and bounce along to hits including Becky’s so Hot; an unhinged song about her ex-girlfriend’s new girlfriend. Showcasing her vocal rage to a growing audience she looked more than at home on stage to 15,000 people. We feel confident in saying, FLETCHER will most certainly be playing to audiences of that size, of her own fans in the not-so-distant future. (9/10)
As FLETCHER’s staging was stripped back, quite literally, the tall poster of her album cover pulled away to reveal Panic’s drum set, the countdown clock started ticking and the buzz began amongst the fans behind us in the pit. The light faded to black, pulses of purple light and electrical sounds glitched and we opened with Panic’s touring band members assembling on stage to Brendon Urie’s voice echoing the first verse of Say Amen (Saturday Night) before he casually walked out for the chorus. This of course was met by a rapture around the arena. A smile on his face in acknowledgement of the reception launched him straight into the rest of the song finishing with its challenging high note which, of course he hit pitch perfect. Something to note, throughout the nearly two-hour show, is how impressive Urie’s live locals are. We’d seen reviews about him no longer having the range and complaints of pitchiness on the US leg, but Urie delivers a masterclass over the evening, silencing any haters regarding his vocal ability.
We launch straight into hits including Hey Look Ma, I Made it, Don’t Threaten Me with A Good Time and This Is Gospel before the lights faded to black to presumably end this portion of the show. Urie is yet to really speak to the crowd properly, he doesn’t really at all until the final third of the show. In fact, the nearly two-hour set is almost just him singing, we are never actually formally introduced to his band members, a further sign that Panic! At the Disco are now just Urie’s solo project.
This brings us to the next section of this review as this next portion of the show is the entire new album, played in full. Now in our seats having been in the pit where the atmosphere was booming, we have a very clear view of the arena and what happens next is interesting but also something we predicted after a little sneaky look at the setlist. After playing the lead single from the new album, (of the same name), Viva Las Vengeance, the mood in the arena dips entirely. It’s as if now a support act nobody is familiar with is playing new music to us. Phones go down, movement starts to halt. The crowd is a ghost of what it was before. It’s no secret that the new album hasn’t gone down particularly well with fans and this is visually evident before us.
What we found most bizarre about the entire show was knowing that this was it. Being their last ever tour it seemed ludicrous that more of their back catalogue wasn’t played. When we finally reached the end of the new album and went into Girls/Girls/Boys the crowd had an instant lift again. What we noticed between the newer and older material, was how much more lyrically complex the song writing was, Urie’s stage presence elevated the newer material for sure, but we don’t think playing the entire album, in full, was something anyone in that room wanted and really, being this final ever shows for the band, we wonder if Urie may also regret the decision to not relive his best work for which he is regarded so highly as an artist.
“18 years…I’m filled with emotion” Urie pauses at one point to tell us, and honestly, he looked it. Having seen previous tours, this seemed a shell of the others. Far more stripped back, no covers, no flying piano over the audience, just bam, bam, bam straight through. Urie seemingly wanting to close this chapter and allow this era to end. It’s hard to tell whether we’ll see him again as a solo artist, so far there has been no indication as such, and if truly the end, then we feel lucky to have been amongst those at the band’s final shows. Ending the show with High Hopes, the confetti falls, perhaps on what is one of the last times Brendon Urie will take to the stage if his statement on the end of Panic is anything to go by. It’s a poignant moment, not only knowing it’s the end of an era, but because it deserved more of a curtain call than it had. 7/10
Written by: Caitlyn Ebsworthy