Live: TWENTY ØNE PILØTS // O2 Academy Brixton, London
The best band in the world. As if there’s ever been any doubt.
Dubbed ‘A Complete Diversion’, the show marked the band’s first live performance in over a year.
It’s time to wake up. This summer the fans subscribed to Twenty One Pilots‘ newsletter received an email with a subject line “ARE YOU STILL SLEEPING?”, which ended a year-long silence from the band. After teasing with cryptic messages and social media posts, the duo finally confirmed details of their highly anticipated new album, Trench, which will be released on October 5th. With their London show being an absolute madness, we are now more than ready for this new chapter.
Accidentally wearing a yellow hoodie, I blended right in with the masses that flooded O2 Academy Brixton last week. Playing a significant role in the new era of Twenty One Pilots, the golden hue covered the venue as anticipation and excitement was rocking sky-high. Dressed up as various characters from the band’s recent video trilogy, the crowd demonstrated their dedication and creative input while waiting impatiently for the men of the night.
The show was a thrilling spectacle from start to finish. Accompanied by Heavydirtysoul intro and some pyro effects, Twenty One Pilots opened with new tracks Jumpsuit and Levitate, a live debut in both cases. Recreating the scenes from the visuals for the songs, the guys sported their ‘Trench’ outfits and masks with flames shooting out of the car that was placed in the middle of the stage, which surely added an extra factor to the whole stage aesthetics.
Always underlying their enigmatic demeanour and symbolic attributes, Twenty One Pilots thrive on a gripping genre blend that hits you when you least expect it, and their new material only expands this pattern. Whilst Jumpsuit rolls on pounding drums and tempo twists, Levitate is yet another lyrical masterpiece of Tyler Joseph’s. Intertwining their new material with some fan favourites, the band continued with the absolute hit, Heathens which struck with ominous electronics and flashing lighting sequences.
“Well, welcome my friends”, we heard from Tyler next. “You guys are looking absolutely fantastic. You didn’t know this, it’s our first show in over a year but we haven’t played in London for over two years. It’s a home of ours. We will play songs we’ve never played before. We’ll also be playing in March and we’re now announcing a third night at Wembley. We’re gonna have fun tonight, alright?”. I believe we all know the answer to that.
Presenting their diverse live skills range, We Don’t Believe What’s On TV served us some funky vibes with Tyler smashing the ukulele chords and Josh swapping the drum kit for a trumpet in the pre-chorus. Elsewhere in the set, Lane Boy saw Tyler bravely stage dive before taking on the piano in Holding On To You, whilst Ride was a chance for Josh to place his drums on top of the crowd, quite literally. Reaching out for his red hat as a nod to the ‘Blurryface’ era, Tyler showcased more of his stage antics on Stressed Out, as he went for a massive jump with the car on fire as a backdrop of course. Needless to say that the crowd was singing their lungs out during every song.
More of the band’s new material was delivered in the form of Nico And The Niners that struck with a tasty beat and synergy between drums and ukulele elements. Remaining true to their vision till the very end, the duo didn’t miss the opportunity to reenact their handshake from the clip for the track. On the other hand, My Blood showcased the band’s melodic pop sensibility and the versatility of Tyler’s vocals in a beautiful manner, whilst the audience joined their voices for a massive singalong.
“It’s our first show in a year but we will come back. We’re gonna show you something we’ve never done before. There’s so much I want to talk to you guys about. It’s everything we have right now”, Tyler expressed as the show was slowly coming to an end.
Piano-led opening of Car Radio quickly transformed into a whirl of hammering electronics and smoke effects, finishing up with Tyler singing on the balcony. And then Trees was just icing on the cake, accompanied by confetti filling up the entire room.
The show was a treat for both old school fans and new ones, reminding us why Twenty One Pilots are one of the best bands in the current musical landscape. They’ve got pure talent, they’ve got the tunes and the live performance that surprises with every second, but most of all they’ve got a truly dedicated following base that’s gone way beyond the description of a word ‘fan’. However, what’s more important right now is that they’ve just got back and are ready to shake up the world again.
Photos: Adam Elmakias