Panic! At The Disco / Men Women & Children - Manchester Academy 1 - 22.4.06

Panic! At The Disco debut headlining tour of the UK will be the stuff of folklore for a generation. As Designer Magazine approaches the venue a few hours prior to door time, cordons stretch around the back of the venue keeping away the throngs of fans waiting to pounce the moment Panic! leave the venue. An hour later they can't leave the venue due to safety years and the fact they'd probably not make it back alive. And as if to give a final answer on the much debated internet poser about whether the band should have been originally headlining on the Fuelled By Ramen package tour with The Academy Is... back in January, tickets were changing hands on Ebay for over £100 a pair in the weeks leading up to this tour. However for all of us there this was not an experience we'd have changed for all the money in the world.

Men Women And Children didn't so much warm us up as take us on a blistering MDMA'd journey through gay disco rock. Dividing the crowd from the moment they hit the stage dressed to kill, the guitars hanging with lace and a mission to destroy emo and dance to the beat as the final nail gets hammered in. The fact that this is ex-Glassjaw guitarist Todd Weinstock new band is even more surprising as his former band almost laid the foundations for the scene as we know it. Whereas the album references the Gloria Gaynor, The Village People and Duran Duran, the live show is a little more robust, a little more testosterone heavy. "Photosynthesis (We're Losing O2)" features a choreographed dance straight outta the Ricky Gervais school of dancing, but sounds like a funky Lostprophets mixed by the Chemical Brothers, "Lightning Strikes Twice In New York" sounds is a 70s porn soundtrack while "Monkey Monkee Men" gets the emo's riled at the bar. Their best moments are saved to the end with future single "Messy", the most traditional rock song in their catalogue, segueing into "Dance In My Blood" for a last disco dance. Men Women And Children received a mixed reaction, but don't all the best bands - its better to be loved or hated than to create an indifferent reaction.

Once in a while a band comes out that are so perfect that it's impossible not to be taken by them. For this generation it's Panic! At The Disco who are fast becoming this years My Chemical Romance, but while it took Gerard Way's boys years on the road slogging it out the hard way Ryan Ross simply rounded up four friends recorded a couple of demos, stuck them online and the rest as they say is history. Since then it's been a tale of ever increasing numbers. First ever gig: 300 people; First ever UK tour: 1000 people a night; First ever UK headline tour: 2000 night. Next step, two enormo gigs later in the Autumn at Wembley Arena and an unconfirmed venue in the north.

From the elongated songtitles such as "Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage" and "There's a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't", the fact that they dress as victorian dandies, the burlesque videos....or is it just because "Ryan Ross is God" as many of the badges state throughout tonight's venue. The setlist is virtually the same as last time they hit these shores with the addition of a Counting Crows cover.

Beside the singles, the harp led pop-overture "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" and the Elton John honky tonk rocker "But It's Better If You Do", "Camisado" and "Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off" sets themselves up as future singles even if the band have other plans. From the light piano riffery opener to the full on electro beatfest it turns into. Like all the best bands Panic realize that there's no use trying to recreate the more intricate electronica so just fire off the samples while putting on the performance of their life's.

In the space of a few short months Panic have released a debut album that crams more influences into it that most bands whole careers, completed two UK tours which wipe the floor with virtually any rock or pop band you care to mention and yet they haven't even released an official single in the UK (Sins was download only). Tonight was truly a night to remember but the Panic story is only just starting and come the end of the year they'll fully realize the live shows they want to give the UK fans

Alex McCann
Photos: Shirlaine Forrest

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