Explore Issue 01 of LOOP Magazine

Featuring Sam Tompkins and Victor Ray as our cover stars, as well as internal spreads from Girli, Jords, Mysie, Finn Askew, Kara Marni and Master Peace

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Twenty One Pilots Take Over London

Smash hit singles Stressed Out, Heathens and Ride launched the Columbus duo to indie-emo stardom, creating a fandom for the band as devoted as they are emotionally complex.

However, as the band recover from the release of their most critically dispraised album, Scaled and Icy, an album as equally poor lyrically as it is musically, the band “took over” London with a series of four shows at some of the most prestigious music venues the capital has to offer.

The final night of their tour saw them once again grace the stage of Wembley Arena, a venue that laid home to the spectacularly over-the-top Bandito tour only three years prior. This time, however, the now duo-no-more band were determined to take a new approach to their live show formula.

Where once bandmates Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn would perform to unchangeable yet musically impressive sequenced backing tracks, the boys this time have instead decided to be accompanied by a full six-piece live band, complete with chugging electric guitars juxtaposed by bright horns ready to remix classic Pilots tracks in an instant.

Performances of beloved songs Jumpsuit and Heavydirtysoul were larger than ever, exploding with energy and rip-roaring their way through the venue, complete with fans whose attendance of the previous three gigs showed no sign of slowing them down. A session band complemented guitar solos with excitement that was almost enough to make up for the disappointing setlist the crew were tasked with performing.

Whilst the new live band provided an undeniable welcome change of pace to the show, other larger changes were not welcomed quite as gladly. Gone were the bombastic theatrics of previous tours that the band have famously become synonymous with over their short career. Whereas in previous years, fans were greeted by hamster balls, body doubles and bridges that allowed lead singer Tyler Joseph to dangle over the crowd whilst rapping at breakneck speed, this time, the Pilots unexplainably decided to replace them with an abundance of mundane covers of songs with no real relevance to their environment (in total the band covered seven songs).

The decision to perform these covers, unfortunately, ate up valuable time throughout their performance which before had been used for unforgettable moments such as a B-stage section, the infamous “get low” crowd participation during Lane Boy and the tear-jerking piano outro of Chlorine, all segments that were featured during their European leg of the tour.

It was impossible not to feel as though the setlist performed was an ill-planned last-minute decision, with songs flowing into each other as gracefully as an ear infection. The past two years have bought the world some of Twenty One Pilots’ most joyful songs in their career, and with better setlist song placement planning, it could have made for a funky segment during the show. However, what Wemberly Arena was subjected to was over-the-top cheesy performances, spliced in between heavy and dark numbers with no consideration of the energy it would create in the room.

However, the performance wasn’t all doom and gloom. The take-over tour provided audiences with one of the most exciting ideas the Ohio boys have had to date, in the form of a campfire sing-along during the mid-section of the show, complete with acoustic renditions of some fan-favourite tracks.

It was these fan-favourite tracks that acted as a reminder of the greatness Twenty One Pilots are able to achieve when they put their capable minds to it. Blurryface classic Message Man saw Joseph at his most theatrical in the performance, with the now father of two giving one of the best rapping performances from his extensive catalogue, whilst dipping his hands into black paint to signify a story so deep in Twenty One Pilots lore that it would take pages to explain.

The greatness continued during the home stretch of the show. Tracks Ride, Car Radio and Trees saw Tyler Joseph climbing across the stadium in a manner that is nostalgic to the early days of their career, proving that despite the years, nostalgic memories for Pilots’ performances from the past can be saved for a rainy day when the boys come to town, as there is plenty to gawp over that will make you feel fourteen again at their current shows. However, it is a shame that greatness can be so easily tarnished by a band that has managed to suddenly become so out of touch with what once made them great.

Twenty One Pilots are far from losing what once made them great. But tighter set listing and a reminder of why they are regarded as one of the greatest live bands is desperately needed. However, until then, the fathers of the skeleton clique still manage to put on a generally enjoyable show that might even surprise you at times.

Not quite as good as the old days, but loveable nevertheless / 10

Words by Mason Meyers

Posted On 3 October, 2022