I used to watch Bry‘s videos on Youtube, many moons ago, when he still used to go by the name BriBry. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him being announced as twenty one pilots support – I’d been expecting a more established artist, not a Youtuber who has only just released their debut album – but when Bry announced that he wasn’t on the tour because of labels or PR people, just because Tyler and Josh were “nice enough people to give the little guy a chance”, I was glad they’d handpicked someone who performed the job of support act so brilliantly.
At the start of his set, he announced “my job in the next thirty minutes is to convince you to love me,” following it up by saying “I have a few reasons! Number one: I’m Irish. …And that’s about it, really,” and I think he managed to make everyone love him just with that statement. I haven’t laughed so hard during a support slot, and a big part of Bry’s appeal is his personality: he’s very self-deprecating, and it’s his seeming lack of confidence that makes it impossible to take your eyes off of him. Sharing a story from his last tour before ‘You’re Alright’, he admitted “I’m not the most masculine person” and told a story about the man at his last show in Hull who screamed “Is that a man or a woman?” as soon as he took to the stage, quipping “I’m really looking forward to going back to Hull…”. It was also brilliant when he introduced ‘Adventure Time’ by admitting it had been used on a washing machine advertisement in Sweden. “If you find yourself in Sweden and need a ten percent discount on a washing machine, call me!” he shouted. “I’m a connected man!”
Each of his songs was catchier than the one before, and I can’t choose a favourite because I enjoyed all of them so much. It was a set that improved as it went on, and even though I was beyond excited to see twenty one pilots again I actually wish Bry could have been on stage longer. I’m going to have to get hold of his debut album, because I want to hear more of his delightful, guitar-driven songs.
I felt very sorry for him when his guitar string snapped before penultimate song ‘Care’, but he didn’t let him stop him and finished the rest of the set in style. Not many artists get to play Alexandra Palace twice before their debut album has been out for a week, and I hope everyone who attended the shows supports him by getting a copy.
Having seen twenty one pilots a couple of times this year already, I knew to expect an amazing live show filled with energetic performances of all of their biggest songs: the inimitable ‘Heathens’, the chart-topping ‘Stressed Out’, the fan favourite ‘Car Radio’.
What I hadn’t expected was to fall back in love with a band that I’ve been feeling more and more alienated by over the last year and a half.
The last couple of shows I’ve attended have had dreadful audiences (constant screams throughout every song rather than singing along, members of the ‘clique’ being extremely rude to each other and to the band, by talking through all of their older music and only paying attention during songs from most popular album ‘Blurryface’) but that wasn’t a problem at Alexandra Palace. It’s probably because both shows sold out so quickly: their date on Friday 11th sold out within five minutes, and this second date was sold out within the hour, so there wasn’t a chance for people who don’t care about the band to buy tickets. I didn’t see a single person in the room who wasn’t singing and dancing along through every song, and it was refreshing. It was obvious from the opening two songs of their set: you could hear people attempting to rap to the extremely speedy ‘heavydirtysoul’, and then during ‘Migraine’ Tyler let the crowd sing the first couple of verses completely unaccompanied, and you could understand every lyric word for word.
This is what a concert is supposed to feel like: a room full of people who are all excited and happy to be there.
I was surprised by the fact that twenty one pilots have become such a family friendly band. The amount of people in the room under ten was surprising, my favourite ‘spot’ of the evening being a child up on their parent’s back, wearing a kimono and a balaclava and rapping along to every word. I knew they had widespread appeal, but I hadn’t known that it was quite that far-reaching. It’s heart-warming, to say the least.
The best part of the set was when they moved on to the secondary stage towards the back of the venue. Kitted out in the skeleton hoodies that they wore for the back cover of ‘Vessel’, they performed ‘Ode To Sleep’ and then Tyler shared that they wanted to play a few of their older songs for the crowd, and they launched into a medley stuffed with songs they don’t normally play in their sets.
Having seen them in February when they also performed a medley, I’d expecting it to be the same one, so imagine my shocked surprise when they added in ‘Johnny Boy’ and ‘March To The Sea’ from their self-titled debut album, and ‘Kitchen Sink’, one of the bonus tracks from ‘Vessel’. If they continue to play a variety of older music in this way in the future, I’m going to continue being very happy. These two refuse to forget their roots, and it’s surreal to hear such strange and quirky songs being played in such a huge venue, particularly with the beautiful transitions that make the medley seem like a complete song in itself.
Back to the main stage for ‘Holding On To You’, which features Josh doing that backflip (which I finally caught on video!), and then the crowd were treated to their second cover of the evening, House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’. Compared to their cover of Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’, which was tender and heartfelt, their take on ‘Jump Around’ felt more frenetic than the original, a brief breakdown in the middle of the song giving everyone a chance to get their groove on.
I don’t normally like ‘Stressed Out’ – it’s very lazy and extremely over-hyped – but something about this performance of it had me feeling very proud of these boys, particularly when seeing Tyler jumping off of his piano and then throwing himself across the stage and leaping back ontop of it. I’ve been going to their shows for a few years now and the contrast between seeing ‘Guns For Hands’ from barrier to seeing it on a huge stage like this, Tyler taking a brief break in the middle of the song to zorb across the crowd in a ginormous red ball, is something I don’t think I’m ever going to come to terms with. Their growth is unprecendented – I dare you to try to think of a band who have gained popularity as quickly as they have in recent years – and I’m profoundly thankful that I’ve been able to witness their explosion first hand (even if I am little apprehensive that the entire world knows who they are now).
I had to leave before the end of the show, but I managed to see the spine-tingling ‘Tear In My Heart’ – which now has a creepy extended remixed outro that features Josh drumming alongside the men in hazmat suits from ‘Lane Boy’ – and the song that will always be in my list of top TOP songs, ‘Car Radio’. Tyler’s platform at the back of the room was easily visible as soon as I walked in, so I made sure to work my way back so I could see him pop up and own the end of the song as he always does.
This was twenty one pilots biggest UK show to date. I thought they’d be headlining Wembley Arena by the end of the year – a venue that has a capacity of 12,000 compared to Alexandra Palace’s 10,000 – but by selling out this historical, legendary venue twice is far more impressive. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go next, particularly because they’re busy working on their fifth album at the moment: if they can re-create the success that they’ve gotten with ‘Blurryface’, they’re going to be the biggest band in the world this time next year.
House of Gold intro
We Don’t Believe What’s On TV