Last year saw the release of Twenty One Pilots’ fifth album ‘Trench’, reaching #2 in the UK Album Charts and gaining recognition as the bands best work yet. The American duo embarked on their worldwide ‘Bandito Tour’ shortly after the albums October release, arriving in the UK last week with shows in Birmingham and Glasgow. We were joined the yellow-tinged crowd at their sold out Manchester Arena show on Tuesday night.
The lights went down at 8pm sharp and a blazing torch was carried onto the stage by drummer Josh Dun, his face covered by a bandana. Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Joseph followed, wearing a balaclava and arriving on top of a car that burst into flames soon after. The crowd erupted as the pulsating beat and fuzzy bass-line of ‘Jumpsuit’ kicked in and in just one song, the duo had already captivated the minds of everybody in the room. ‘Levitate’ followed, before the synth-ridden ‘Fairly Local’, which came to a sudden stop as Joseph appeared to fall through the stage floor, reappearing in Block 202 and ending the track to deafening screams as he removed his balaclava.
Over two packed hours, the band paid homage to several eras of their career with an eclectic set list of tracks from three of their studio albums, as well as ‘Heathens’ – the ghostly single that the band recorded for the ‘Suicide Squad’ soundtrack. It wasn’t just their set list choices that acknowledged different eras of their career either, it was reflected in the both the lighting and their outfit choices; from Joseph’s red beanie hat during the anthemic ‘Stressed Out’, to the pairs Skeleton hoodies during ‘Holding On To You’, to their yellow jackets during their visit to their second stage. The second stage segment of the show saw the band take the pace down a little with a double whammy of slower-paced ‘Trench’ tracks that showcased both the emotion behind Joseph’s vocals and his delicately beautiful piano playing; the touching ‘Neon Gravestones’ and ‘Bandito’. Despite being on a much smaller stage that harboured just a drum kit and piano, the production was as slick as ever and elegant lights hung above them; changing colour and creating patterns in time with the music. The third and final track to be performed on the second stage was the electronically inclined ‘Pet Cheetah’, with its discordant nature serving to be the perfect example of the bands talent of crossing genres.
It’s easy enough to see why Twenty One Pilots are one of the biggest bands on the scene right now – what’s hard to comprehend is that it’s all down to just two people. Joseph’s vocal style is incomparable and it’s mesmerising to watch him switch instruments at ease; whether that’s his bass during ‘Jumpsuit’, ukulele during ‘We Don’t Believe What’s on TV’ or piano during ‘Leave The City’. Dun is the driving beat of the band and despite tearing it up for two hours straight, he still found the time to interact with fans and during ‘Morph’, actually drummed on a portable drum kit held up by the crowd.
The last track of the main set was the slow-burner that is ‘Car Radio’, with Joseph’s spoken word lyrics evoking emotion throughout the room whilst tackling the anxiety of being alone with your thoughts. Shortly before reaching the penultimate moment of the track, Joseph sprinted from the main stage to a podium at the back of the arena, ensuring that every single person in attendance felt like part of the gig. The first track of the encore was the bands latest single ‘Chlorine’, which was nothing short of pure euphoria. Platforms underneath both Joseph and Dun slowly raised them into the air, in line with the epic visual that featured the famous Ned; an alien-like creature who plays a starring role in the singles video. The night came to an almighty end with the iconic ‘Trees’ from ‘Vessel’, with the first verse slowly teased by Joseph before the pair burst into the full track – eventually both drumming in the audience whilst surrounded by a whirlwind of smoke and yellow confetti.
When you go and see Twenty One Pilots, you get more than a gig, you get an experience. With the rumour that there’s a second leg of the album tour on the way, don’t miss out on seeing them!