Twenty One Pilots at Brixton Academy
Life was different last time American rock duo Twenty One Pilots came to London, and not just because they had one less album. New release Scaled and Icy does nothing to cool the current UK heatwave, with Brixton Academy at full capacity. The Takeover tour truly takes over the venue, giving fans what they have wanted since 2021.
Yet, no one knew they wanted to see the band clad in white suits and black ski masks until they casually stepped onto the stage. The inaugural track on the new album, Good Day is also the concert opener. They don’t give any introductions, but just let it speak – well, sing, and drum – for itself, launching straight into No Chances next, a much darker corner of the record. Their sound may have become more pop-centric and synth-driven as opposed to the heavy guitars and crashing drums of Blurryface, but there are no critics in the audience – just fans. This is not a change, just an evolution, which vocalist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun acknowledge by letting their true cinematic story play out on a big screen, offering simply good visuals for people that don’t follow the lore.
Throughout the night, people, symbols and even rain, which could be realistic in the dark of the Academy and a British summer, are projected. Despite this, there aren’t a lot of theatrics because the artists are the theatrics. They unmask their new identities for an old classic, Stressed Out. By this point, Tyler Joseph could retire and just let the fans take over the Takeover tour as they sing the entire first rap of Migraine without any input at all from the frontman. But he smiles, knowing that what happens next won’t be as predictable. Clapping replace words, and the song is mashed up into songs from different eras, Morph and Holding onto You. If the screams could grow louder, they did, when Josh Dun casually backflips from the piano, and then goes back to drumming as if it was nothing.
Normally chants have to be introduced, but not in a Twenty One Pilots show: the crowd seem to know exactly what and when to call out. If there were outsiders, it would be confusing, but these Heathens are addressed in the next song that has Joseph taking over the piano alone. In contrast, once the song closes, there’s a miraculous wind section and multiple guitars – a full band that provides a jazz-infused intro to The Outside, as well as giving each member a chance to shine and Joseph a minute to change his wardrobe yet again.
Full of energy, the musicians cycle through instruments, from guitar to ukulele to piano, seamlessly. Partway through, they even take up acoustic guitars for a few slowed-down numbers, making this feel like two shows in one – or six shows, since they showcase music from every release. No one leaves disappointed or unseen.
Trees, the final song of every show – the reason everyone knows that it’s actually over and there will be no more encores – fills up the venue. Twenty One Pilots’ energy is still buzzing, and not just because someone forgot to turn off the mic.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Twenty One Pilots’ website here.
Watch the video for the single The Outside here: