Panic At The Disco – [CD & DVD]

Monday, 19 January 2009

In spite of the fact that the band nixed the exclamatory punctuation from its name before the release of 2008’s Pretty. Odd., it’s pretty obvious that no one at Chicago’s Civic Theater had heard the news the night that Panic At The Disco took the stage there. From the moment the stage lights come up and the band kicks into “We’re So Starving,” an ecstatic, estrogen-laced (how do girls hit and sustain those squealed notes at concerts anyway?) eruption goes up from the crowd in front of them and, literally within fifteen seconds, the  group has the assembled throng engrossed; they swing, they sway and they swoon as Panic At The Disco slides through a couple of tracks from Pretty. Odd. as well as a couple more from 2005’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out with not only surprising ease, but remarkable authority. It goes without saying that this is still Detergent rock (for a definition of the term, go to Ground Control’s review of Pretty. Odd. here ), but it actually rocks pretty hard and Panic At The Disco doesn’t ease up or break stride until they hit “She’s A Handsome Woman” and take stock of what they’ve set into motion.

At that point, Panic At The Disco stops, the band members take a look out in front of them (and maybe recognize that there is already not a single dry seat in the house) and see that the view’s pretty good from where they’re standing but, rather than coast on the waves of adoration, they serve notice that they’re only getting warmed up. “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage” ups the ante by connecting the dots between bratty punk, danceable pop, heart-on-their-sleeves emo and even classic folk rock (“Behind The Sea” finds PATD trying some CSNY-inspired multi-part harmonies on for size) and travels between the extremes of those sounds with an undeniable, disconcerting facility. Throughout the band’s twenty-song set, Panic exposes a versatility that their studio albums simply do not and not a beat gets skipped or pause stretched along the way. It’s actually pretty incredible in listening to this record to discover how solid the band is live; the studio trickery always perceived as integral  to songs including “Nine In The Afternoon,” “That Green Gentleman” and “Northern Downpour” either isn’t missed in this live setting or are reworked and rendered as unnoticed omissions and the show gets over on the sheer strength of the performance. The audience just eats it up here too; they know every word and sing along unfailingly.

There’s no doubt that, without having seen or heard Panic At The Disco live, critics have been justified in questioning whether or not the band could pull off live what they do on their studio releases. There has always been a staggering amount of over-production involved in the band’s studio albums that an army of musicians would have difficulty replicating in front of a live audience, yet Panic proves their detractors wrong with Live In Chicago by working around that significant obstacle and not only pulling it off with ease, but doing it with style. Many bands are praised for the ragged anthemia of their concerts, but Panic At The Disco is deserving of the same level of praise here for the clean execution and delivery of material that one would think impossible outside of the studio.


Panic At The Disco official website

Panic At The Disco myspace

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