The famously undefinable duo Twenty One Pilots had been on a break from performing live since the summer of 2017, and had seemingly been focused on composing new tunes and creating new worlds for their fans and themselves to find freedom and solace in. That is when they first announced their world tour starting in October, the Bandito Tour, the idea of seeing this enigmatic band live was a thrilling one to their fanbase. But when fans were seeing slight advertisement for a one-off London show called “A Complete Diversion”, the hype was tenfold for the British section of the fanbase.
Tickets were selling out in moments, and everyone was desperate to grab some. From arranging a meet with some “banditos” in London to releasing 150 more on the morning of the show, it seemed that they were squeezing in as many eager fans as they could. As exciting as it would be for the more hardcore of fans, the event was grossly oversold as the Academy was packed from wall to wall with attendees. The temperature was high – too much for some unlucky people who ended up passing out before the gig and during. The overheated venue led to staff handing out cups of water and people being carried out and led aside.
Focusing back to the show, the stage production wowed more than the Blurryface and Emotional Roadshow tours of 2016. With drummer Josh Dun starting things off in full bandito gear and the on-stage pyrotechnics gaining gasps and applause, everyone knew they were in for an experience. As lead vocalist Tyler Joseph walked on and towards the microphone, the crowd exploded. Being a mystery of a man, not speaking to press or appearing on social media for over a year until recently, his appearance on the stage was almost unbelievable.
Opening the show with two of the newest releases, the heavily punk-influenced “Jumpsuit” and the all-rapping-no-singing single “Levitate”, and it seemed that the rumours of this one-off gig being a full playthrough of their upcoming album Trench‘s setlist were being proven correct. However, when Joseph moved to sit at his piano, playing the opening notes of their 2016 soundtrack single, “Heathens”, those rumours were quickly falsified. Were there any disappointed faces? None. Did everyone still scream and sing along with pride and joy? Yes.
Avoiding any performances of new unreleased tracks, the Ohio band performed old favourites from their previous two albums, 2015’s Blurryface and 2013’s Vessel. The crowd all bonded over these previous songs; and the band bonded with them. From Joseph leaning over the crowd during the opening of “Holding On To You”, to Dun moving onto a platform with another drumkit to play the final part of “Ride” in the audience, surrounded by adoring fans.
One of the best songs performed were their most recent release, the Trench track “My Blood”, which saw Joseph splitting the crowd in the stalls in half to sing different parts of the repeating chorus as he and Dun continued playing. This proved how important the fans’ reactions to the newer music was to the twosome; with a smile on his face and some subtle dance moves, Joseph gladly played on and almost guaranteed the song’s return on the upcoming tour.
From using a car prop set on fire behind them on stage, to Joseph’s outfit changes during the night capturing the camouflage and yellow tape look of Trench, the floral kimono and red beanie of Blurryface and even a balaclava relating back to the looks from Vessel, the most touching visual of the night was the launch of yellow confetti during their closing song, the deeply emotional “Trees”. A staple closer, this felt like a goodbye to Blurryface and an official welcome to Trench. Past the issues, it was a night of faithful and personal music, meaningful to every single person standing in that venue for one reason or another.
There is only one way of capturing the night in words.
“We are Twenty One Pilots, and so are you.”