I’ll be the first to admit that Panic! At the Disco’s Pray for the Wicked Concert at the Scotiabank Arena got off to a rough start. The doors opened an hour late, the opening acts – Arizona and Hayley Kiyoko – were cancelled due to complications at the border, and whoever was in charge of the warm-up music thought that “Africa by Toto” and a Dr. Dre song were appropriate lead ups to Panic!’s performance. All in all, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect after the 10-minute countdown clock. But then, Brendon Urie, the voice and face of the band, launched onto the stage and the stadium exploded.

Urie is a natural entertainer who commands the stage from the moment he arrives to long after he’s left. Never one to stand still, his energetic performance made fans forget the extra hour they spent in line as he transitioned flawlessly through his opening songs: “Never Threaten Me With a Good Time”, “Ready to Go (Get Out of My Mind)”, and “Hey Look Ma, I Made It!”. With his guitarist Kenneth Harris on one side and his bassist Nicole Row on the other, Urie used every inch of the triangular stage. His falsetto in “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” was impeccable, furthering the eerie atmosphere of the song through the darkened stage. The drama continued with a brief disappearance at the end of the song that allowed Urie to change from an entirely sequined blazer to one that only had sparkling trim on the cuffs and lapels as the crowd continued chanting his name. This darkness was immediately juxtaposed as bright lights flooded the stage while the band played “Nine in the Afternoon”, the only song from Pretty. Odd. that Panic! played. Continuing on the theme of reminiscence, they played “Golden Days”, which ended with a theatrical cascade of sparks while Harris and Row battled it out on centre stage.

Though only Urie remains of the original Panic! At the Disco lineup, the same principles of embracing oddities and curiosities remain central to the band’s attitude. This came through in “Dancing’s Not a Crime”, a song that emphasizes choosing joy over conformity. The Pray for the Wicked show was a display of resilience, encouraging fans to embrace who they are and celebrate it, regardless of society’s perception of ‘normal’. Nothing could have demonstrated this message more than Urie’s performance of “Girls/Girls/Boys” which featured Hayley Kiyoko as the two sang and danced on a stage draped in rainbow pride flags, (my personal favourite performance of the show). Urie followed this with a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, an ode to his childhood and his time as a cast member in Lauper’s Kinky Boots. Panic! then played a beautiful rendition of “High Hopes”, followed by “Miss Jackson” and a cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

Pray for the Wicked was a concert to remember for the ups and downs and the perseverance to perform regardless of any bumps – or in this case borders – along the road. The album itself reflected the theme of celebration and success of making it as a well-respected alternative band with a solid fan base and consistent hits. Urie ended the concert on this high note, using the encore to sing the song that started it all for Panic! in 2005, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”. This was followed by their final song, “Victorious”, depicting the elation of both the performers and the audience at the success of the concert.

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