BY ZACHARY HANSEN/AJC Correspondent
Before the release of Panic! At The Disco’s fifth studio album, “Death of a Bachelor,” Brendon Urie was left as the only band member left standing. The other two main members, Spencer Smith and Dallon Weekes left to pursue other projects, which presented Urie with complete creative control of the band.
Urie was already one of those performers whose stage presence dominated the limelight, but as the remaining only member, the Brendon Urie Show was born.
On Wednesday night before an Infinite Energy Center crowd illuminated by blue, light-up demon horns, Urie was on full display.
From the early high notes scattered throughout opener “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time,” the crowd was completely under Urie’s spell. That’s not to say the music behind Urie was lacking, because the touring musicians definitely held their own, but they never stood a chance of getting a fair share of the attention. People wanted Urie, and Urie they got.
This even showed in the outfits. The whole band was decked out in all black attire, resembling suits to a certain extent. However, Urie sported a gold blazer, which made him pop out among the special effects, flames and lights.
Pompous theatrics is nothing new for Urie. In fact, he’s set to make his Broadway debut in “Kinky Boots” this summer. After the band performed “Miss Jackson,” a video came on screen of Urie going backstage only to be abducted by a group of cult members. This led to Urie appearing solo in the center of the audience to play a piano version of the fan favorite, “This is Gospel.”
He followed this up by walking through the crowd back to the main stage while singing “Death of a Bachelor.” The song has always had a Sinatra-style feel to it, and the way Urie walked through the crowd definitely gave off similar vibes. He was suave, talking to fans in between lyrics and generally being charming.
One of the other highlights of the night, “Crazy=Genius” is also a bit of a throwback to fast and loose jazz and swing music. Urie’s influences don’t stop in the 1960s, as he gave a little speech to introduce a cover of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out.”
“I was the youngest of five, and I constantly got my ass kicked,” Urie said. “We had chore day where our parents made us clean, and I typically got toilet duty, but it wasn’t so bad because they played records. I discovered music I didn’t know I loved — one of those was Billy Joel.”
The other main cover of the night, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” went off well too, including close to as much bombast and spastic energy as the original. It was definitely a fitting cover, but Urie did drag the ending — the line “Nothing really mattered to me” – out a little too much, almost to the point of self-indulgence.
That’s the negative side of the Brendon Urie Show. As much as he carries the show and engages the audience, he also can seem self-obsessed.
At most rock concerts, each band member will get a solo. None of the members got a solo except for the drummer, and that drummer happened to be Urie. It was an impressive solo, especially considering it was over covers of Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” and Rihanna’s “B***h Better Have My Money,” but that doesn’t lessen the egotism.
This stood in contrast to openers Saint Motel and Misterwives, both of which had great performances in their own right. Saint Motel’s hook-driven pop was immediately infectious, and it contained some of the best earworms of the entire night. The song “My Type” was especially memorable.
The same can be said for Misterwives. They brought a little extra heaviness to the table, especially in the song “Imagination Infatuation,” which sounds almost nothing like the studio version. The live performance even included a metal-style bridge breakdown with a trumpet solo blaring over it, and lead singer Mandy Lee was a dominating presence in her own right.
As good as their performances were, this was still Urie’s night, and he’ll undoubtedly be what people remember. They may also remember the line “I don’t want to eat chocolate cake with Donald Trump — f**k him.” He said this before performing the song “Girls/Girls/Boys” before screens full of LGBT pride and political footage. He also grabbed a pride flag from an audience member and held it with his microphone stand for the rest of the song.
April 12, 2017 also happened to be his 30th birthday, so the surprise of the band and audience singing him “Happy Birthday” was genuinely sweet and memorable as well. The Brendon Urie Show is off to a good start, and it seems doubtful that it’ll stop being entertaining anytime soon.