One minute counted down on a large screen as the crowd’s cries got louder and louder. Violins began to pluck as purple strobe lights reflected off glistening trumpets.

The stage was then cast into darkness before a single spotlight lit the centre of the stage as Brendon Urie was thrust from its depths, literally leaping into song while the entire stage lit up and the crowd erupted into a ginormous cheer. It was quite the entrance as Brendon and his fellow Panic! at the Disco companions filled Manchester Arena for the last leg of their Pray for the Wicked tour.

Opening with the first song on the album, (Fuck A) Silver Lining, Brendon jived and flipped his microphone with a cheeky charisma that you can’t not love. Looking handsome in a pair of skinny black leather trousers and a black t-shirt under a shimmering gold patterned blazer, Brendon sang Hey Look Ma, I Made It, sporting the same outfit from his music video which played on the big screens behind him. The live band was in full swing as Brendon thrust energetically on stage to the jazzy single.

The entire show had a very ‘Great Gatsby’ vibe to it as black and gold kaleidoscopes rolled on the LED screens, complementing the lively swing-induced album as Brendon and his live band performed tracks One of the Drunks, Dancing’s Not a Crime and Roaring 20s.

Playing a few classic Panic! songs, Brendon belted The Ballad of Mona Lisa back from his man-scara days before descending slowly into the stage only to reappear at the other end playing Nine in the Afternoon on a grand piano.

Brendon’s voice is nothing short of extraordinary as he hit the high, high notes of High Hopes with breathless precision and perfection. In addition to his gifted vocals, Brendon demonstrated his many musical talents such as his dexterous piano playing and an immense drum solo which concluded with his backflipping off the podium.

Slowing the musical pace but racing pulses, Brendon took to his fans, shaking fanatic, outstretched hands while serenading Death Of A Bachelor. Showing his more sentimental side, Brendon shared the story of his mother (trying) to teach him to play the piano. Playing the first song he fell in love with, a cover of I Can’t Make You Love Me, he then entwined the song into Dying in LA, all whilst playing the piano on a hovering platform floating above the sea of fans scattering the arena with speckled stars of light.

In memory of the 22 people that tragically lost their lives at the Manchester arena back in 2017, the crowd lit up the venue by holding little blue bee symbols in front of their phone lights as an emotional tribute during the song This is Gospel.

As a known advocate of the LGBT community, himself identifying as pansexual, Brendon expressed his support during song Girls/Girls/Boys as the word ‘love’ was split across the multi-coloured backdrop. Colourful confetti rained on the crowd as they threw several pride flags on stage which Brendon proudly draped each around his shoulders. Brendon finished his performance by giving an empowering speech about being who you are, and loving yourself.

Ever the showman, Brendon proved his status with a cover of one of the biggest tracks of last year, The Greatest Show, in a theatrical performance that could have championed the Greatest Showman himself. In another cover, Brendon performed a powerful rendition of, what he considers the greatest rock song ever written, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.

Stripping back to just his leather trousers, Brendon teased his fans by showing off his lean, tattooed torso for his encore performances. Keeping up his incredible stamina, he burst into his song Saturday Night before thanking his faithful fans for 15 years of support and performing the song that kick-started it all, I Write Sins Not Tragedies.

Finishing a fanfare-fuelled show of vigorous performances, Brendon gave an encouraging speech about being “dope”, self-worth and appreciation through the comical analogy that we are all born winners since we were the first tadpoles to cross the finish line, after all. This was echoed through his final performance of the very apt song Victorious as white and gold confetti showered over the crowd, ending the night of Gatsby proportions in the very most of high hopes.

Gay Times gives Panic! at the Disco – ★★★★☆

Words Tom Richardson