Last week, Twenty One Pilots brought their Takeover Tour to the UK, playing four shows in five days at increasingly bigger venues, with each one representing a particular milestone for the band.
They started with a super-intimate show at the Camden Assembly (where they played their first ever London headliner back in 2013) before moving onto Shepherd’s Bush Empire (which they previously headlined in 2015 as part of the Blurryface World Tour). Up next was Brixton Academy, where the world of Trench was first unveiled in 2018 before returning to Wembley Arena, a venue the band headlined three times in the same week in 2019.
Over the course of these shows, Twenty One Pilots proved they are a constantly-evolving alt-rock titan with the ability to own any and every stage they take to.
Here’s what else we learnt on the road with Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun.
Bigger is always better
Yes, seeing Twenty One Pilots in a teeny, tiny room is now a rarity and their setlist reflected that, with plenty of tracks from Vessel aired at Camden Assembly alongside Blurryface deepcuts. But as fun as the show was, it wasn’t until Brixton Academy and beyond that the full Twenty One Pilots experience could be unleashed.
Armed with fire, lasers, CO2 cannons, confetti and huge video screens, this band belongs on a bigger stage. More than merely looking great in larger rooms, that extra space means Twenty One Pilots can really indulge in all back-flipping, piano-diving, crowd-riding, disappearing shenanigans they want. Plus they’ve found space for four new live members, giving the band an extra helping of firepower.
Scaled & Icy is the perfect party soundtrack
These shows also gave the band the chance to air material from 2021’s lockdown album Scaled & Icy in the UK for the first time. A divisive album at the time of its release because of its party-starting pop might and it’s seemingly detached narrative from the storylines of previous records Trench and Blurryface, Scaled & Icy has gone on to prove itself an absolute must in the Twenty One Pilots canon.
From the sunshine opening of Good Day through the emo rage of Shy Away via the joyful escape of Mulberry Street, the songs from Scaled & Icy add some much needed vibrancy to the band’s emotional intensity.
Twenty One Pilots are open about their influences
Aside from praising the crowd during almost every bit of onstage banter, Twenty One Pilots make sure to pay tribute to a variety of musical heroes throughout the Takeover Tour by covering their songs.
From Elton John’s Bennie And The Jets through My Chemical Romance’s I'm Not Okay to more obscure touchpoints like Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly, the Temptations’ My Girl, Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeroes’ Home and George Michaels’ Careless Whisper, the band proudly wear their eclectic influences on their sleeves and offer a gateway to anyone who’s accompanying a son, daughter or partner. These shows truly are for everyone.
A Twenty One Pilots show is basically karaoke
You’re going to want to be in fine voice if you’re heading out to see Twenty One Pilots anytime soon. Yes, big breakout hits like ‘Stressed Out’, ‘Ride’ and ‘Heathens’ never fail to unite a room full of strangers in song but across this tour, the crowd has been scream-singing every single word to every single song.
From retro rap verse like in ‘Holding Onto You’, through brand new tracks like ‘Saturday’, almost every song is a contest between artists and audience over who can sing louder. It’s clear these words mean an awful lot to everyone present. There are times where vocalist Tyler Joseph doesn’t put up a battle, listening to 5,000 voices all rap the chorus to ‘Migraine’ instead. At times it’s feral but it’s always beautiful.
There’s such a strong sense of community
Jumpsuit has quickly evolved into a rowdy festival anthem with its snarling guitar riff and sneering lyrics. However during the song’s more delicate verses, the moshpit turns into a safe space with the audience putting their arms around each other's shoulders and singing “if you need anyone, I’ll be right there” before that guitar line kicks back in and the chaos resumes. It’s just one moment of a set that’s filled with comfort and understanding from this passionate community.
The band are only getting more ambitious
Twenty One Pilots have always put on a spectacle, surprising the audience by popping up in the seated areas or drumming on their heads via a crowdsurfing drum kit, but these Takeover Tour shows see just how far that ambition has come.
From the production that always just about manages to be squeezed onto the venue's stage, to the showmanship both Joseph and Dunn display throughout their set, it really does seem like the band are only just realising their vision for Twenty One Pilots and how far they can take it. It’s going to be one hell of a ride from here on.