Review: Panic! At The Disco and E^ST at Hisense Arena, Melbourne, October 13th, 2018

Earlier this year, Panic! At The Disco released their newest album, Pray For The Wicked, giving their group their first number one record in Australia in more than a decade. As a result, it makes perfect sense that the band would be greeted with a sold-out crowd when they hit up Melbourne’s Hisense Arena last night for the last show of their Pray For The Wicked Tour.

Having kicked off the tour one week earlier in Sydney, fans were eager to see what the group had in store for them at the final leg of the tour. With doors having opened at 7pm, by the time that E^ST hit the stage at 8pm, it seemed as though there were five times as many punters outside the venue than inside, and making us hope they didn’t miss out on this stunning support act.

With the Central Coast’s Melisa Bester taking to the stage as E^ST, fans were treated to an eclectic mix of indie pop and electronica, delivered with such energy that it felt as if this would be a hard act to follow.

Having recently joined Panic! At The Disco by signing to the Fueled By Ramen record label, E^ST was undoubtedly amongst fans as she showcased a vast array of tracks such as “I Don’t Lack Imagination”. Nearing the end of the set, E^ST pulled out a blast from the past, performing a cover of “one of [her] favourite songs ever”, The All-American Rejects’ ‘Gives You Hell’.

Joined onstage by a trio of costumed dancing aliens, the cover saw some huge applause from fans, before E^ST prefaced her last track, the amazing ‘Life Goes On’, with a snippet of the Rugrats theme tune.

A powerful way to end a brilliant set, fans were left wondering just when they would next be able to witness another awesome show from increasingly popular musician.

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Following a brief intermission between sets, fans were met with a ten-minute counter on the venue’s main screen that indicated that the evening’s main event was set to begin shortly. As we hit the 4:20 mark, Toto’s ‘Africa’ blazed into the arena, as fans sung their hearts out with an enthusiasm that appeared hard to parallel.

Following a 10-1 countdown, the live members of Panic! At The Disco (featuring a string trio and a brass section, no less) took their positions, as frontman Brendon Urie burst onto the stage accompanied by fitting silver streamers for the opening number of ‘(Fuck A) Silver Lining’.

Immediately, it was clear that this was not going to be a run of the mill performance, with Urie bounding around the stage with an energy not often seen by live performers. As flames shot up from the rear of the stage, fans seemed unmoved, unable to take their eyes off this charismatic performer and his intoxicating stage presence.

While bassist Nicole Row and guitarist Mike Naran took centre stage to perform the ‘Rock Lobster’-sampling intro of ‘Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time’, the audience roared with enthusiasm, amazed at how tight Panic! At The Disco are as a live band, and how well these intricate numbers translated to the live stage.

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Performing a set that borrowed heavily from this year’s Pray For The Wicked and 2016’s Death Of A Bachelor, it was easy to see that Brendon Urie’s heart is well and truly invested in the group’s latest material, showcasing levels of confidence and enthusiasm that were not quite as evident in some of their earlier cuts.

Between belting out euphoric choruses for almost every track, Brendon Urie also brought the vibe down a handful of times to perform tracks such as ‘Nine In The Afternoon‘ and a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’, being backed by a string trio for the former.

Bringing the vibe back for tracks such as ‘Nicotine’, and a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’, Urie showcased his awe-inspiring dancing on tracks such as the heavily ’80s-inspired ‘Dancing’s Not A Crime’, while testing the limits of his vocal range on tracks such as ‘Casual Affair’.

However, the evening’s highlight undoubtedly occurred during the band’s performance of ‘Girls/Girls/Boys’. While Brendon Urie was draped in both the Australian and LGBT pride flag for the song, the audience participated by holding up coloured hearts to their phone, bathing the venue in beams of multicoloured lights.

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A common sight at the band’s performances these days, these hand-made hearts were handed out to the audience upon entry, allowing fans to to mimic the colours of the LGBT pride flag during the performance, and celebrating their love of music, along with the diversity of everyone around them.

Following a stunning performance of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, the group left the stage quietly, as fans chanted for more from this beloved group. Thankfully, they didn’t have to wait long, as Panic! At The Disco soon returned for a fitting performance of ‘Say Amen (Saturday Night)’, with Brendon Urie clearly enjoying the fact it was a Saturday night.

After taking their sole excursion back to 2005’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out for their breakthrough single ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’, the band topped off the evening with a stunning rendition of 2015’s ‘Victorious’, leaving fans to head out into the night with huge smiles on their faces, and wondering what new hits the band will have in store by the next time they visit Australia.

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Fans of Panic! At The Disco would undoubtedly be aware of the famous story that Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz signed them to his Decaydance label without ever having seen them play live. While such a move was undoubtedly a risky on back in the day, in hindsight, it appears as the most obvious decision ever, with the group’s consistently-successful singles and amazing live shows earning them the reputation as one of the most exciting bands going around today.

While hardcore fans might lament the lack of the band’s early material in the live shows, the fact remains that as the band continues to grow and evolve, their music only manages to get more and more exhilarating. Undoubtedly, a Panic! At The Disco show is some of the best fun you can have anywhere, and it’s clear that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more exciting live show anywhere.

Check out Panic! At The Disco’s ‘Victorious’:

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Panic! At The Disco @ Hisense Arena, Melbourne, Austrlia 13/10/18 Setlist

‘(Fuck A) Silver Lining’
‘Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time’
‘Ready To Go (Get Me Out Of My Mind)’
‘Hey Look Ma, I Made It’
‘LA Devotee’
‘Hallelujah’
‘The Ballad Of Mona Lisa’
‘Nine In The Afternoon’
‘Golden Days’
‘Casual Affair’
‘Vegas Lights’
‘Dancing’s Not A Crime’
‘This Is Gospel’
‘Death Of A Bachelor’
‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ (Bonnie Raitt cover)
‘Dying In LA’
‘Girls/Girls/Boys’
‘Nicotine’
‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ (Cyndi Lauper cover)
‘High Hopes’
‘Miss Jackson’
‘King Of The Clouds’
‘Crazy=Genius’
‘Bohemian Rhapsody'(Queen cover)
‘Emperor’s New Clothes’

Encore:

‘Say Amen (Saturday Night)’
‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’
‘Victorious’