The Panics with WASOA Perth summer night at King’s Park was always going to be enjoyable but with the euphoric sounds of West Australian Symphony Orchestra playing with local band The Panics, it was almost perfect.

Without any introduction – besides a pre-recorded voice-over announcing the start of the show – The Panics joined the orchestra and began playing, opening with some of their more mellow tracks, such as break-up song Ruins, which was majestic with brass and strings.

For such a large, outdoor space, the sound was exceptional and even on the louder songs, lead vocalist Jae Laffer’s voice was only occasionally subdued by the orchestra behind him. The Panics’ style suited classic interpretation well, with plenty of room for WASO to explore the drama and emotion of their music.

Besides a shout-out to his grandmother, Laffer said little, seeming genuinely overwhelmed by his task of being “as professional as the orchestra”, making it obvious The Panics saw it as a privilege to be playing with WASO and have their songs re-imagined by a team of eight composers. As with the other times I’ve seen WASO pair up with performers (Augie March and Ben Lee), this wasn’t just band plus orchestra. The two groups worked together to create something unique, complementing each other rather than competing.

Some songs worked better than others but Cruel Guards, One Too Many Itches and My Best Mistake were outstanding and the uplifting Don’t Fight It, probably their best-known track and one they chose to finish on, had me singing along.

Ever since the pairing of Brisbane band George with WASO in 2003, WASO collaborations with pop and rock favourites have established themselves as events not to be missed – the 4,500 who attended on Saturday night can attest to that.

The Panics with WASO

Venue: Pioneer Women's Memorial | Kings Park & Botanic Garden
Date/Time: 8pm, Saturday 20 February 2010
Tickets: $70 | Groups 10+ $60 (Price per ticket)
Bookings: WASO 9326 0000 | 136 100

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