Select Page

Live: Twenty One Pilots @ Portsmouth Guildhall

Live: Twenty One Pilots @ Portsmouth Guildhall

Creating an image around a band can be a blessing or a curse.  For Twenty One Pilots its definitely the former, with the red, black and grey of their latest album Blurryface, being carried through to everything in tonight’s show.

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

From the backdrops, to the pre-performance lighting, the main show lighting and even the outfits and head-torches used by the road-crew.  Everything has been thought about, planned and carried out.  And that’s before we speak about the performance itself. In lesser hands it could look formulaic.  But not in this case; these boys have studied their craft and really know how to deliver.

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

Before anything started, the anticipation was palpable with spontaneous Mexican waves and phone torchlight shows from the crowd.  But once the house lights dimmed and the drop snare break of opening track Heavydirtysoul rang out, the crowd lost complete control, and it’s a long time since I’ve been to a gig where the crowd knew EVERY lyric and every nuance of every song played.  And this remained the story for the next 90 minutes hours as Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun treat the Portsmouth collective to a slightly extended set, courtesy of this being the final date of the tour, all backed up by light show that must have required a small power station to illuminate.

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

Coming onstage in a full skeleton outfit, Tyler bounces around the stage like a slightly overactive child, not knowing which toy to play with.  Piano, to suspended radio mic, to front stage platforms and back to the piano again, the energy is infectious, albeit hard work to photograph as you just don’t know what’s coming next.  After the opener its straight into the huge radio hit Stressed Out and the first of many outfit changes.

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

Gone is the top element of the skeleton to be replaced with a blanket, whilst Josh on drums remains covered by a hood and an alien mask.  Given there’s only the two of them, there’s a strong reliance on backing tracks through the set, but that doesn’t distract from what’s going on, and the combination of performance, lighting and a really eclectic range of songs from hip hop through rap and light hearted pop keeps everyone lost in the moment of what’s happening onstage.

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

Guns For Hands is the first song from 2013’s Vessel and  it’s a noticeable change in style from the more recently material – lighter and  possibly more appealing to some of the audience, its followed by a number of tracks from that album including Migraine and House of Gold, all of which the crowd turn into a singalong.  But what makes a Twenty One Pilots show so unique are the changes that get brought in for each song.  Whether it’s the lighting, the outfit (Hawaiian shirt and Trevor Horn-esque glasses) or the instruments including a ukulele for The Judge, and each has its own identity and theme…..

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

…  and that extends to the mid set “acoustic interlude” which for some bands can be a chance to take it easy, but not here.  They rattle through a great medley of some old and some newer songs from a temporary drum and keyboard  platform at stage front including The Pantaloon, Semi-Automatic  and Forest, with Tyler and Josh extracting versus and choruses in a seemingly random way.  But of course it’s planned that way.

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

21 Pilots full on show with lights play for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

And then its back into the high energy spirit of the second part of the set including Holding on to You which saw Josh back-flipping off the piano, and Ride where an entire drum riser was brought offstage to be supported by the crowd with Tyler playing only inches above their heads.  By this stage, its unsurprisingly at fever pitch, but there’s still time to notch it up for the final song Car Radio which saw Tyler disappearing offstage only to appear on the top balcony to finish the song.  There was a momentary expectation of him launching himself off into the adoring throng, but the hands of 2 burly security guards kept him rooted to the spot.  Given the height of the Guildhall balcony, probably a wise move.

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

After a brief respite, they succumbed to the wishes of the chanting fans and returned for a two song encore of  Goner and Trees, the latter being a consummate lesson in putting on a finale as both Tyler and Josh climbed on fan held platforms containing 2 massive bass toms, as confetti exploded around them, and dry ice billows vertically from the smoke generators.  Definitely a visual feast!

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

21 Pilots full on show with lights, CO2 and confetti for a packed Portsmouth crowd (Andy Sampson)

So its all breath-taking stuff, and one which I’m sure none of the crowd will forget in a hurry.  Is there a chance that all “the show” diverts attention from some of the weaker songs?  Yes probably.  But being a band who try and weave so many styles into their repertoire, you’re never going to please everyone.  And personally, if I could get entertained like that at every gig, roll on more shows like this!

Twenty One Pilots live review and photography

by Andy Sampson at Portsmouth Guildhall on 29th February 2016. Andy has more of his photography at Sound Ritual follow this link: www.soundritualphotos.co.uk

 

About The Author

Andy Sampson

Although I’ve come to music photography later than some, it happens to combine 2 of my favourite things, music and photography. Having been to a lot of gigs over the years I’d always been been in the crowd (often behind the tall bloke that arrives with 5 minutes to go!). So when fate gave me the chance to take things to a different level in 2014 I grasped the nettle and started taking pictures at local events, and as a house photographer at KOKO in Camden. Since then I’ve continued to shoot for KOKO and have also been building up my portfolio at venues like The Garage, The Borderline and the Jazz Cafe. My first photoshoot for RockShot was in May 2015 when I got to cover the amazing Beth Hart at the Barbican, and since then i’ve been lucky enough to cover some amazing acts at both small venues like St Pancras Church, and festivals like Blissfields.

PHOTOGRAPHY

You can view and search our photography here. Some images are available to buy and license...not all mind.

ROCKSHOT MAGAZINE APP

NO SECOND THOUGHTS

STAR SHAPED

PlayLists On Soundcloud March 2017

A TRUE STAR

CENTURY CITY

Festivals

Rock Life

Anything That’s Rock n Roll

Vision Playlist

YOU TELL ME

ANOTHER DAY

ANOTHER DAY
Live: Half Moon Run @ Roundhouse
Live: Half Moon Run @ Roundhouse
Published On: March 26, 2016
Playing their biggest headline show to date, Montréal-based indie rockers Half Moon Run returned to Camden, albeit the Chalk Farm end, just a few months after their explosive Koko show following the release of their second studio album Sun Leads Me On. Yes, I went along to their Koko show (read all about that one here) and immediately went out Continue Reading

Pale Shelter

SHIMMER