7 things we learned from twenty one pilots’ smallest UK show in nine years

Last night (June 21), twenty one pilots returned to the tiny Camden Assembly – the site of their first-ever London show all the way back in 2013. As you can imagine, it was an incredible night…

7 things we learned from twenty one pilots’ smallest UK show in nine years
Emily Carter
Ashley Osborn

twenty one pilots are back on UK soil this week for the first time since the pandemic, tearing up London on their four-date Takeøver Tøur. We headed to the first night at the Camden Assembly to catch Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun doing what they do best in a very, very small room…

1This is an unbelievable venue to see such a massive band

…well, duh. With bigger shows in London happening this week as part of their genius Takeøver Tøur (the duo are also playing at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, O2 Academy Brixton and then finishing up at the OVO Arena Wembley), this is the most intimate UK twenty one pilots gig in almost a decade. Returning to the scene of their first-ever London date back in March 2013, Tyler and Josh have seriously outgrown such small confines, and the 250-or-so fans crammed (very literally) into the Assembly know how lucky they are to be here. Even if it does feel like a sauna…

2And the room has given the band some pause for reflection

Performing at such a historic place for twenty one pilots, tonight Tyler takes a moment to look back and take stock. “It’s pretty incredible to be playing this venue,” the frontman shares from behind his piano, before a beautifully stripped-back Holding On To You. “We played this venue – what was it? – nine years ago. And whether it was that night, or plenty of other nights between then and now, there’s a lot of faces I recognise. Thank you guys so much for sticking around with us; it means so much.” We’re not crying, you are…

3Their fans are as amazingly dedicated as ever

Despite this being such a small venue (where you’re pretty much guaranteed to be closer to Tyler and Josh than ever before in a live setting), fans have nevertheless been queuing since the very early hours to get as near to the stage as possible. And with three more shows in London this week, there’s no doubt those who have tickets will leave Camden tonight and rush straight over to Shepherd’s Bush (and then Brixton and Wembley) to do it all over again. Who even really needs sleep?!

4There’s a total setlist overhaul

Rather than performing a set simply full of their biggest hits (Stressed Out, Heathens, Ride, etc.), Tyler and Josh know what these diehards want to hear – and, in fact, happily 2013 album Vessel gets the most plays in the setlist tonight, with seven songs from that record (there’s six from Scaled And Icy, four from Blurryface and two from Trench). And what a treat it is, too: opening with Ode To Sleep, before dropping in lesser-played oldies like Migraine and Semi-Automatic. Guns For Hands threatens to have the floor crumble through all the jumping, while Car Radio and closer Trees are just as life-affirming as when they were first released.

5The new material sounds fantastic, too

Tyler graciously thanks fans for singing along just as loudly to all the stuff from Scaled And Icy, which is being played for the first time here. Choker and The Outside are early highlights, while the frontman partly performs Bounce Man on his ukulele, before a wonderful one-two later in the set of Good Day and Mulberry Street. The absolute best, though, is lead single Shy Away, which sees Tyler (rather reluctantly given the heat) go for something of a costume change and don his big winter jacket. Hey – even in the summer, given the UK’s notoriously crap weather he might be needing it at some point on this visit…

6twenty one pilots’ usual wild production isn’t possible, but they still put on the very best show

Given that Tyler’s head practically touches the ceiling while he’s performing from atop his piano, there’s absolutely no chance of a classic Josh backflip tonight, or proper drum solos on the crowd. That would be impossible. Production is still rad, though, with the Scaled And Icy logo beaming bright from the stage, a dazzling light show, and the pair planting water-covered drums on top of the audience for Trees’ glorious ending. It all makes for a refreshing change from their usual antics – but we’re expecting Josh to limber up and get his gymnastics on for the next three shows…

7Ultimately, this is an incredibly cool idea

No matter what stop you’re going to on this run, the Takeøver Tøur is, frankly, a genius idea. From those more intimate moments to seeing the band in the huge arenas we’ve grown accustomed to over the years, this is an event that’s properly for the fans. Fresh setlists, different production and a whole new vibe each night, it’s the chance to see Tyler and Josh growing and changing with their surroundings in real time. Not to mention, if you got tickets for every date, you get to see twenty one pilots four times in a week. Yep, we’ll happily take that.

Check out more:

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?