TWENTY ONE PILOTS | SUPPORT: THE REGRETTES |
VENUE: MANCHESTER M.E.N ARENA
DATE: 5TH MARCH 2019
WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON
PHOTOS: GEORGIA RAWSON
If you’re ever lost in a city and looking for the nearest twenty one pilots concert, just follow the sea of yellow tape and camo outfits. On 5th March it was Manchester Arena’s turn to host the “banditos” a.k.a the clique; the huge and dedicated fandom who follow around twenty one pilots. The dynamic duo have really been taking over the world since 2015’s smash hit ‘Blurryface’ album, as well as inventing a whole world of their own on recent release ‘Trench’. It’s this world that’s inspired the latest yellow trend, a series of related music videos and a secret website, and has now been incorporated into the band’s slick live set as part of their sell out Bandito Tour.
With support from fabulous pop punk rockers The Regrettes (8) who played a bouncy, lively 30 minute spot and won over some new fans while taking their career progress to the next level with such massive stadium shows.
As the lights dimmed, the frantic crowd let out ecstatic, excited screams and lurched forwards in the packed pit, watching as drummer Josh Dun emerged holding a flaming torch, yellow tape strapped across his chest and a yellow bandana covering his face. It’s the exact same look he wore for the trio of videos the band made set in the fictitious places of Dema and Trench (‘Jumpsuit’, ‘Nico And The Niners’ and ‘Levitate’). And when charismatic frontman Tyler Joseph finally emerged some minutes later, it was atop a burning car; not just a dramatic entrance but an image directly from one of their videos. This is TWENTY ONE PILOTS (9) and this is simply BIG. This connection between the world of Trench and their stage show was cleverly interwoven at various points throughout the ensuing set, while managing to smoothly blend in content from their previous albums, starting the night with the first two tracks from ‘Trench’ – ‘Jumpsuit’ and ‘Levitate’ before moving into some songs off ‘Blurryface’. It should be noted at this point that Tyler Joseph has confirmed a connection between ‘Blurryface’ and ‘Trench’, stating that the big baddie of the Trench world, Nico, IS actually Blurryface. It’s as if the band have been building up to this point for a long time, and now they’re finally here. This is the story they’ve been wanting to tell from the beginning and it’s one worth listening to. Aside from the positive, uplifting content which addresses important mental health issues, it can’t be denied that these two guys know how to put on a good show.
Theatrical and visual, the band made full use of almost every part of the arena. They had a ‘B-stage’ set up just in front of the sound booth where they played three songs and allowing everyone at the back of the pit a much closer, more intimate view for a while. Josh Dun played his drums out on a ‘drum island’ held up by the fans. They walked across a gigantic metal bridge which slowly lowered down into the centre of the pit, stood on podiums which moved up and down, and Tyler Joseph pulled a classic magic disappearing act, vanishing in a puff of smoke and reappearing a split second later at the back of the crowd, at the very top of the seated section of the arena. He also changed his outfit an impressive six times, incorporating the different looks from different music videos and ‘eras’ of the band.
Meanwhile, the visuals on the big screens told their own story, featuring flashing, psychedelic and sometimes creepy images which reflected the stories being told in the songs and again tied in with the Trench world.
Busting out all the old favourites mixed in with a large number off the new album, the pair treated the excited crowd to ‘Stressed Out’, ‘Ride’, ‘Lane Boy’ and a whole host of others over a tight and professional two hour set which didn’t drag. The crowd jumped up and down pretty consistently throughout, as well as joining in with Tyler’s call and response sections and taking part in “the Quiet Game”, where the band challenge the entire audience to be completely silent for as long as they can (Manchester only managed a measly 1.96 seconds!).
Aside from the one off 60 minute warm up show in September last year at Brixton Academy, this is the first time ‘the pilots’ (as they are now affectionately nicknamed) have toured the UK since 2016. Unsurprisingly, all the dates are sold out, but thankfully we can expect them back on our shores later this year for Reading & Leeds, which isn’t one to be missed. It’s safe to say they put on an impressive live show, and considering there’s only two of them, their sound is huge. They don’t need another nineteen pilots – they’re doing just fine.