Live: TWENTY ØNE PILØTS // The SSE Arena, Wembley
Bringing their ‘Bandito Tour’ spectacle to London, Twenty One Pilots set The SSE Arena, Wembley on fire. Quite literally.
Who needs a full band when you can have Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph? For just a duo, they certainly made the whole of Wembley seem like it wasn’t big enough for a Twenty One Pilots show.
Taking over the iconic arena for a three-night residency, the band delivered a mind-blowing set that made a nod to their back catalogue whilst celebrating the new era. With hordes of fans dressed up as characters taken straight out of the TRENCH video trilogy, it certainly felt like being transported to a completely different world.
Accentuating their enigmatic demeanour and symbolic attributes at all times, Twenty One Pilots set the tone for the night’s proceedings from the very first second. Wearing ‘bandito’ masks and sporting their ‘Trench’ outfits, they easily recreated the scenes from their recent music videos, whether it was Josh marching with a flaming torch or Tyler jumping off a burning car. Bathed in their signature yellow glow, the whole stage design played its part in mirroring the band’s visual aesthetics as well.
Diving headfirst into Jumpsuit, the track’s hard-hitting riffs and pounding drums were sure to pack a punch and keep the crowd on the edge. With pyro effects and confetti cannons being set off at the beginning of the show, the energy and excitement soared sky-high in an instant.
Swaying along to ukulele chords, We Don’t Believe What’s On TV and The Judge served some funky vibes, whilst Heathens struck with its ominous electronics and dazzling lights. Elsewhere in the set, Lane Boy saw two mysterious figures take to the stage. Wearing gas masks and using smoke machines, they caused an absolute mayhem.
With a ravishing stage production, Nico And The Niners was a true highlight of the whole set. As we watched a massive bridge unfold in front of our eyes, Josh’s drum kit went up towards the ceiling as if it was pulled by a massive lever. Stretching from the stage to the middle of the room, the bridge gave Tyler the opportunity to tease the crowd a little bit more until the duo ended up on its other side. Taking to the piano, Tyler said: “I’d like to dedicate this part of the set to our dads. It’s our favourite part, but not for any emotional reason, it’s because I ask you to sit down and dads love that.” Accompanied by subtle lighting sequences, Neon Gravestones and Bandito took it down a notch, bringing the band’s diverse skills to the forefront.
Moving back to the main stage, they delivered relentless and blistering performances throughout the whole night as every song had something different to offer. The rhythmic sensation Holding On To You saw Tyler stage dive to its piercing chorus, and it was only followed by fan favourite Ride. To make it even more interesting, we were involved in The Quiet Game, which had only one rule – to remain quiet as long as possible, of course. With a score of :02.84, night one was the big winner here.
Making the security show off their best dance moves – and what a sight that was – the band slid into My Blood which blended tasty beats with melodic pop sensibility. With a dark ambient electronic backdrop, Morph was Josh’s moment to shine as he continued with his insane solo on a drum kit which was placed on top of the crowd.
The piano-led opening of Car Radio quickly transformed into a whirl of hammering electronics and smoke effects, heralding the end of the show. Accompanied by pink and blue tones, Chlorine opened the encore bringing back everyone’s favourite character – Ned, whose image was being projected on the giant screens.
Rounding off the set with the emotional Trees, it flourished into an expansive wall of sound that everyone could sing along and dance to. With an explosive crescendo, we were left gasping for breath, surrounded by the yellow confetti filling up Wembley arena in true Twenty One Pilots style.
Genre-defying and multi-talented, Twenty One Pilots have grown into a global phenomenon; there’s no doubt about it. Cultivating a strong connection with their ever growing fan base, they have continued to take their live shows to the next level. You can either love them or hate them, with no in-between, but there’s no denying that they’re one of the best bands of their generation. I read a comment once, under one of their videos which said “it doesn’t feel like they are playing the music, it feels like they are the music”, and one can’t argue with that.
Photos: Kasia Osowiecka