Saturday, 15 November 2014

twenty one pilots - Electric Brixton, 14/11/14

I have seen a lot of bands live. And I mean a lot. That is a comprehensive list of the bands I have seen and there are more than I'd even be willing to count. 
I've said it before and I'll say it again, hopefully many many times; twenty one pilots are the best live band I have ever seen, and last night's performance at Electric Brixton just further cemented that in my mind. 
Before I start my review, I just want to give an honourable mention to the venue for the evening, which was the best venue I've ever been to. I can't praise Electric Brixton well enough: the acoustics were amazing, the lighting was amazingly well set-up and the performance would not have been the same without those things going right, so it was good to see how well the venue accommodated to twenty one pilots stage antics and set-up.

Now, for the concert. First up, opening band Purple (hailing from Texas) are obviously destined for big things, and I'm extremely proud to be able to say that I've seen them. Their debut album '(409)' was released recently to critical acclaim, so I've been keeping an eye on these guys, but unfortunately I hadn't had time to listen to their music before the show, but by going into this performance with a completely blank mind I was even more impressed than I'd expected to be. I automatically went and bought their album as soon as they'd come off stage, because with a mix of music that references a range from Pulled Apart By Horses to No Doubt I'm sure there will be something that I will love, because their mix is sure to appeal to everyone. My favourite tracks from the set were 'Beach Buddy' and 'DMT'; complete contrasts with each other but so well written and catchy, and with male and female lead vocals swapping on nearly every song the set felt both cohesive and interesting in a very stand out and individualistic way.

Second band, Nothing But Thieves, had the home turf advantage by being the only English band on the bill, but sadly the crowd reaction was not as good as I'd thought they would receive. Their brand of rock is rather inclusive, so there wasn't much interaction with the crowd, but that didn't take away from what was a really good performance. The vocal that Conor Mason can perform astounds me - his soaring falsetto-esque vocals on 'Tripswitch' were breath-taking - and the lyrics are written very well, making Nothing But Thieves a band that I'm going to make sure to listen to much more. Some of their sound is quite reminiscent of Royal Blood, so if you're a fan of them definitely check these guys out, but don't write them off as copycats because they definitely put their own spin on the sound. Before the gig we got given a download card for their four track EP, so I'll give that a whirl and probably have a review of it up in the next week or so. I hadn't actually listened to any of their songs before last night, but watching Conor pour his heart and soul out in the last half of the set, showing how much passion he has - and they all have - for the music they perform, really made me respect and admire them.

Support choices are always going to be difficult with a band like twenty one pilots. Their music is so eclectic (often branded as 'schizophrenic pop') it's going to be hard to find a support that appeals to all of the crowd, so I wasn't too surprised by the muted reaction the first two bands received throughout the majority of their sets, but that changed as soon as the main event started. I cannot say a single bad word about their performance, and I don't think I'll ever be able to. 
If you haven't seen twenty one pilots live, you need to.
Vocalist Tyler Joseph is one of the most charismatic performers I've ever had the pleasure of seeing live - if Gerard Way is one hundred percent charisma, Tyler is one hundred and fifty percent - and the crowd followed his commands and screamed back his every word through the entire set, while drummer Josh Dun is beyond talented. Anyone that can drum on top of a crowd deserves infinite levels of respect, and to run from the drums to climb up the piano, back flip and return to finish playing 'Holding On To You' is a feat I could never imagine attempting to complete.
Their show was much more polished than the last time I saw them; with an intro track to welcome them to stage and to convince the audience to bring them back out for the encore, it added another element of the theatrical to a show that was already comprised of multiple costume changes and the highest amount of energy you could possibly imagine. With Josh drumming on the crowd during 'Semi-Automatic', Tyler standing on the crowd to perform nearly half a song and jumping off of the piano at multiple times throughout the set, and the climax of Tyler and Josh drumming together on top of the crowd, drums covered in water to cause an amazing explosion with every hit, there are so many moments from this show that are just unforgettable, and I'm so glad that I managed to witness this.
The crowd were superb, flooding forward as soon as the band exploded on the stage, showing the most interaction I think I've ever seen at a concert, and I genuinely think this band put on shows that are so inclusive that even if you go into it completely closed minded you will end up being unable to stop yourself from dancing throughout the evening.
This is a band that respect their fans and want to put on the best show possible for them; Tyler saying "Are we doing okay for you? I want you to know that we know that if you guys weren't here this show would suck, and you sold this place out!" proving exactly how grateful they are to be where they are, making sure that no one thinks they're taking their extreme rise to success for granted.
This is likely to be the last UK show twenty one pilots perform in support of 'Vessel', so the next time they grace our shores we should have new music which is a prospect that I can't wait for. During their cover of 'Summertime Sadness' by Lana Del Rey, mixed in with 'Fake You Out', the lyrics Tyler had written to commemorate the end of the show and the end of the tour were brilliantly clever but were also filled with reminiscing about all that they've succeeded with 'Vessel'.
To go from an unsigned band to being on a record label as big as Fueled By Ramen, supporting Fall Out Boy and Paramore on huge arena tours and performing on the MTV Movie Awards, all off of the back of an album that could easily have been dismissed as too eclectic to succeed - that's a success story. And if twenty one pilots next album is anywhere near as good as this one, they're going to be headlining much bigger shows than this next time they visit the United Kingdom. I, for one, can't wait for that day. 

Guns For Hands
Ode To Sleep
House of Gold
Fall Away
Addict With A Pen
Holding On To You
The Run And Go
Fake You Out (with a cover of Summertime Sadness)
Car Radio

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