LIVE: Twenty One Pilots @ Brixton Academy, London

By Yasmin Brown

It had been over a year since twenty one pilots had taken to any stage at all, with both members of the band taking a year-long social media break and leaving their ever loyal Skeleton Clique to wonder what would come next, and when that might be.

Following the announcement of the extensive Bandito World Tour came the welcome announcement of ‘A Complete Diversion’ – a warm-up/welcome back show at the much smaller Brixton Academy in London, where the band played two shows in 2016.

When the day arrived, fans packed out Brixton and whereas during the Blurryface album cycle, you might have found an abundance of red beanies and black face paint on their hands and necks, now there was a sea of khaki green clothing, with strips of yellow tape attached, matching the aesthetic of the band’s upcoming album, ‘Trench’.

This apparent loyalty came not only with the fans’ new attire, but was also evident as soon as the band took to the stage, fifteen minutes later than scheduled. Screams that rivalled those at a Taylor Swift concert ensued as drummer, Josh Dun, walked to his drum kit, past the blazing car from the ‘Jumpsuit’ video (I repeat: there was a car. On fire. On the stage), wearing the very same outfit that he wears in that video holding a flame torch. No one could ever fault their attention to detail.

Front man, Tyler Joseph, joined him shortly afterwards, and as they launched into ‘Jumpsuit’, the first single from the upcoming album ‘Trench’, almost every fan in the room was singing along word for word, highlighting just what kind of a following this band has created for themselves. This revelation was heightened when Tyler climbed on top of the car for ‘Levitate’ – the first of tøp’s songs to be entirely rapped – and somehow, despite only being released a little over a month ago, everyone rapped along with Tyler as though they had known it for years.

Old habits die hard, it seems, as after the happily received performance of Suicide Squad hit, ‘Heathens’,  just as it did during 2017’s Emotional Roadshow Tour, an unseen voice once again introduced Joshua Dun prior to the performance of ‘We Don’t Believe What’s On TV’ – a song that Tyler maintains isn’t about Josh, but that fans remain convinced otherwise.

Floral kimono still firmly on Tyler’s back, ukulele still in hand, the pair launched into ‘The Judge’ and new favourite ‘Nico and the Niners’. The latter once again saw references being made to the music video, as after Tyler fastened up his yellow coat to Josh’s drum beat, the crowd was delighted to see them take a break to perform their (not-so) secret handshake that has now featured in both the ‘Stressed Out’ and ‘Nico and the Niners’ videos.

‘Laneboy’ also saw the return of previous tricks, with two men in hazmat suits dousing the crowd in dry ice as we jumped up from a crouching position before the song’s breakdown, following which Josh was given one of his many moments to shine with an epic drum solo.

Tyler’s incessant need to climb all over the place remains. From leaping around the stage, climbing on speakers, maintaining the tradition of climbing onto the crowd for the first verse of ‘Vessel’s’ ‘Holding Onto You’, and finding some dangerous fixture to climb for the finale of ‘Car Radio’, the man cannot stand still. At any given moment you can glance away from the stage, only to look back and see him 20 metres away from where he was just a second ago, and among all the other mind blowing elements, it only adds to the excitement.

After bringing back the Blurryface attire for ‘Stressed Out’, and dancing along to ‘Ride’, we were treated to the live debut of the band’s most recent release, ‘My Blood’, a performance that will seemingly replace ‘Doubt’ as the main singalong moment in the upcoming shows. As the crowd was split, with the left side singing one part and the right another, Tyler and Josh glanced across at each other with endearing grins on their faces in response to how well their new experiment had worked. No matter how many times they do this, or how many shows they sell out, their humility clearly remains.

Following ‘Car Radio’, a short break ensued prior to the evening’s finale of ‘Trees’, a song that has consistently had a place on the set list since twenty one pilots started touring ‘Vessel’. The band once noted that it gives them a final surge of energy, and it was evident from the relentless jumping of the crowd, that they felt the same way.

With Tyler and Josh’s tradition of drumming on top of the crowd complete, and yellow confetti firmly settled in our hair and on the sticky, sweaty ground, the pair joined together centre stage for their final bow.

One thing’s for sure: This show, just like everything this band has ever done, was for us. They’re still twenty one pilots, and so are we.


Photo Credit: Adam Elmakias