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Panic! At The Disco - The Forum, London - November 21 2013 (Live Review)

Friday, 22 November 2013 Written by Alec Chillingworth

It’s a little weird seeing Panic! At The Disco headline such a modest venue. Tonight, the Forum holds over 2,000 baying audience members within its long sold-out walls but still – this band feels massive. Having racked up millions of album sales worldwide since their debut, 'A Fever You Can't Sweat Out', landed back in 2005, the pop-rock giants are back on British shores once more and hordes of freezing, devoted fans have duly been queueing up all day.

Opening band New Politics head off the crowd's impatience, serving up a smoothie of pop, rock and electronica. Much like Panic!, the styles all merge together superbly. Frontman David Boyd looks like he's been spat straight out of a Hollyoaks episode, his chiselled jaw and streamlined figure causing collective weakness at the knees in certain sections of the audience. Of course, he can sing his arse off too and also hurls himself into the crowd during Tonight You're Perfect.

During the closing throes of Yeah Yeah Yeah, it becomes apparent why this band are here. They bear an uncanny resemblance to Panic! when they first rocked up on the scene. Having already supported Pink, this could be the start of something special for New Politics.

The level of anticipation for Panic! is just ridiculous. Restless bodies shuffle, jostle and push in desperate attempts to get closer. By the time the band hit the stage with fan-favourite Time To Dance, all senses of spatial awareness are completely disregarded. The Forum simply explodes in a cacophony of heavily perspiring glee.

Drawing mainly from 'A Fever You Can't Sweat Out' and third release 'Vices & Virtues', the bulk of the setlist juxtaposes the two eras of Panic! perfectly. Their debut rested heavily on the words of ex-guitarist Ryan Ross, but the band still owns the songs on stage. Brendon Urie has improved a tremendous amount as a frontman in the past few years, with the departure of Ross and bassist Jon Walker in 2009 forcing him and drummer Spencer Smith to take complete control of affairs.

Urie grins his way through the entire set, laying down an immaculate croon on hit single Nine In The Afternoon while utilising his stupendous voice to achieve the highest of highs. Even Axl Rose would've had trouble hitting these notes in his heyday.

A few new tunes from this year's fabulous 'Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!' are thrown in for good measure, producing the intended results. The sleazy swagger of Miss Jackson and the electronic stomp of This Is Gospel show just how diverse Panic! are; they have undergone a complete reinvention, basically, while still retaining the core elements that made them so special in the first place.

The band are just so comfortable with themselves at the moment. Even a bizarre midsection consisting of a few brief bars of classic tunes (AC/DC, anybody?) can't detract from the momentum. By the time they roll into I Write Sins Not Tragedies, it's just a doddle. Vocals aren't needed here and the audience screams until their lungs drip from their nostrils.

Maybe they will never be as popular or renowned as bands they're constantly compared to (Fall Out Boy, we’re looking at you). But, given the strength of their latest release, the intensity of their live show and the genuine hardship Panic! At The Disco have gone through to get here...well, if the world was a fair place, they'd be playing Wembley next time around.  

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