When Twenty One Pilots announced their biggest UK headline show yet, it felt like a reach. A big, looming target to aim for. The band’s peak. Yet here we are at the second of two shows Brixton Academy and it’s completely sold out. It’s a similar story across the UK for the other nine dates of the tour.
The stage looks like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, desolate and doused in red smoke before Tyler and Josh appear and slide straight into the rapid-fire of ‘HeavyDirtySoul’. Every word is instantly and furiously shot back at the pair. From the off, Twenty One Pilots make Brixton feel small while their audience stands tall.
The piano led ‘Stressed Out’ sees Twenty One Pilots’ grip tighten before ‘Guns for Hands’ sends the room spiraling out of control. It’s a playful exchange of chaos and control that the band threads throughout their set. A stripped back medley sees Tyler and Josh hold court with nothing but the bare essentials while the electro funk of ‘Lane Boy’ is dialed right up and, sparked by the ol’ crouch and jump, turns Brixton into a euphoric rave.
Ignoring the ceremony of the evening, Twenty One Pilots treat the venue like their very own playground. Venturing in, out and ontop of the crowd, darting about the stage, pulling a kid from the crowd for the secret handshake and even taking to the upper balcony for the final flourish of ‘Car Radio’, there’s a playful abandon to the show. Tonight, Tyler and Josh are everyone’s mate.
Jarring and all over the place, ‘Blurryface’ has created an anything-goes culture around Twenty One Pilots. Their live show is just as angular, just as united under their control and just as gladly received. “I wish I could have a conversation with each one of you and ask why you’re here, how you got here and what this music means to you,” starts Tyler at the evening’s close. “You guys have been the most amazing source for inspiration for writing songs and we’re so confident because of you.”
Despite the boundless swagger and enthusiasm that the pair performs with, the set still contains some very human moments. Both Josh and Tyler blush when the crowd chants their names and as they step forward to take a bow at the end of the show, the applause goes on and on as the pair look on with disbelief. It further amplifies the connection they share with the crowd. The final cry of “We are Twenty One Pilots and so are you,” rings true. Tonight, everyone mattered. “You have the most beautiful house and you should invite us back,” teases Tyler but let’s be honest, after the comfort of Brixton Academy, arenas beckon.