Everyone has heard the story by now. How, minutes into their first appearance at Reading Festival, Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie was sent sparko by a bottle lobbed from a crowd seemingly unready to accept emo-pop’s next great icons.
What was once a right of passage for a band playing an event previously unafraid to voice its opinion may have gradually retreated to the comment sections and angry tweets of the internet, but it’s fair to say that tonight, Brendon is getting the last laugh. Co-headlining the second night of Reading 2018, his band mates may have gradually departed, but the last great showman of his generation remains.
Trademark sparkly jacket and golden microphone in place, Panic! At The Disco may now swim between one man, a band and a vague illusion of a ‘project’, but its success is inarguable. Now a genuine chart-topper, able to leap across the mainstream with a flashed smile and a cheeky wink, it’s an attitude that makes friends easily.
Bursting into life with recent single ‘(Fuck A) Silver Lining’, even when spewing a potty mouth across Reading’s biggest stage, Brendon still feels like the nicest man in town. A set that draws heavily on Panic!’s more recent endeavours is punctuated by genuine moments from down the years – not least ‘Nine In The Afternoon’, a track that – like Brendon himself – continually proves to be more than meets the eye.
‘Girls/Girls/Boys’ may not be Panic!’s biggest hit, but it’s often the most fitting – its story of “acceptance and pride” ringing out loud. It’s good enough to let that now obligatory cover of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ through, too. While on one hand it’s a trick we’ve all seen before, when played under moonlight from one of the biggest stages on the planet, its energy is undeniable.
That said, this is Reading. While there’s no denying Queen’s anthemic power, ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ is the kind of song that twists in the blood of the assembled masses. Required listening – a legend passed down from generations – there are those in the crowd young enough to have been singing it back since they first started to succumb to music’s undeniable charms. It shows, too. A building block in the foundations upon which the modern festival is built, tonight it gets its dues. You might knock Panic! At The Disco down, but you’ll never stop them coming back for more.
Words: Stephen Ackroyd