It can be hard to imagine that a duo would harbour enough stage presence to rile a crowd for a whole ninety-minute set, those thinking that have probably never seen Twenty One Pilots. The twosome consists of triple threat Tyler Joseph on piano, vocals and bass, as well as frenetic drummer Joshua Dunn who takes to the stage hidden behind an alien mask. Both men have more charisma between them than any one member of a five-piece has in their little finger and it has every single person in the room hooked.
The band prepared a twelve song set for the hoards of fans packed into the rather tiny room in Deaf Institute, Manchester and run through the first four songs with no breaks. Including two old tracks, ‘Guns for Hands’ and ‘Migraine’ as well as two from their new release ‘Blurryface’ of ‘Stressed Out’ and ‘Fairly Local’. The latter of which is quite unique, the lights grow dark as a growing microphone dangling from a pulley device is lowered down for Joseph to sing into. Despite the fact the video for Fairly Local has only been online for a mere couple of weeks, it’s near impossible to hear the vocalist singing over the crowd doing so also.
The introduction of an Ukelele for ‘Lane Boy’ and ‘House Of Gold’ breaks up the set nicely, allowing Joseph to interact. It’s brief, much like all their interactions and is mostly to check and make sure the crowd is doing okay. It works better that way, the duo is like a time bomb, needing to stay erratic or they’ll surely blow. The Ukelele is soon replaced with a bass guitar for a cover of ‘No Woman No Cry’ and it flows into their own song ‘Ride’, which Tyler announces has never been performed until Manchester. How true that is, is another story but fans lap it up. It has a catchy hook and is a perfect follow up to their cover with its groovy reggae feel.
If you need any indication of how dedicated Twenty One Pilot fans are, then their next break is a must see. Jumping out from behind his kit, Dun appears to perform the handshake seen in their recent video for ‘Stressed Out’ with one lucky fan. The two, with encouragement from Joseph, warm up with stretches before running through the entire scene without a single hitch. Instantly the crowd erupts in a chorus of cheers and applause. Practiced to perfection, the fan looked delighted to be congratulated by the band for getting it so right on the first try.
On with the show, the set begins to wind down. ‘Tear In My Heart’ another release from Blurryface is a crowd pleaser and is followed by one of their most popular tracks ‘Car Radio’. The atmosphere for it was highly anticipated and found Joseph hovering in mid-air for most of the song, as he jumped from his piano down to the floor, only to climb back up and repeat again. It’s almost cult like, with Twenty One Pilots as the leader and the crowd as their following, mimicking every move that Tyler makes as he rips away his balaclava and waves his arm through the air.
A ritual of all shows nowadays is the encore and Twenty One Pilots fall into it by removing themselves for a moment, only to return to the tune of ‘one more song’ being bellowed throughout the room. Tyler stands to talk to the crowd, though is cut off by a few in the crowd yelling to hear ‘Ode To Sleep’ and ‘Tree’s’, Joseph isn’t deterred by it in fact he finds it funny and makes a small joke about those yelling out random song names to him. For their last song though, they had chosen to go with one that had been mentioned and launched into ‘Tree’s’, a song which ends with a frenetic drum beat from both Tyler and Josh. Though they do it from the crowd, on little islands held up by hands beneath them. An energetic end to a rollercoaster of a set, they hold the perfect mix of lively and slow songs that give their fans a taste of everything they have to offer.