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Twenty one pi­lots know how to make an en­trance, and not just on­stage. When the Ohio duo come to town, hys­te­ria stretches be­yond the con­fines of the venue in which they’re head­lin­ing. Tonight, this hap­pens across a mile ra­dius sur­round­ing the O2 Academy Brix­ton – from the trees out­side the tube sta­tion be­ing plas­tered in yel­low tape, to scat­ter­ings of new al­bum Trench brand­ing along pave­ments, walls and any­thing else with a flat sur­face. Fans (some of whom have been camp­ing out for four days) have wel­comed in this still-mys­te­ri­ous new era be­fore it’s prop­erly be­gun.

The band’s ac­tual ar­rival is even more spec­tac­u­lar. Skulk­ing out for their first gig in over a year (444 days, if you want to get re­ally pre­cise), Josh Dun ap­pears first, bathed un­der a dim red light. With a lit-up fire torch in hand, the drum­mer eyes the crowd, be­fore tak­ing to his kit to the sound of 5,000 high-pitched screams. The stage it­self is next, with a burnt-out car from the band’s 2017 Heavy­dirtysoul video go­ing up in flames be­neath a black back­drop. More screams.

Fi­nally it’s Tyler Joseph’s turn, the front­man emerg­ing be­tween the ve­hi­cle’s blaze. As he hops down and grabs his bass to launch into the ex­plo­sive Jumpsuit, it’s as if they never left.

With the first-song nerves out of the way, Le­vi­tate and the green, blue and pur­ple-laser­filled Hea­thens fol­low. As the Sui­cide Squad sin­gle reaches its peak, you can prac­ti­cally see the pentup ten­sion es­cape Tyler’s body as he stum­bles around the stage, to­tally in the zone, cathar­sis flow­ing which­ever way re­quired.

As he changes into his Blur­ry­face sun­glasses and flo­ral ki­mono, the front­man pauses to ad­mire the ded­i­ca­tion fans have al­ready shown in em­brac­ing Trench’s strik­ing im­agery. “I’ve gotta be hon­est with you, there are quite a few win­dows from in­side [the venue] to out­side, and there were quite a few times I looked out at you, and you didn’t even know it,” he grins. “And I’ve gotta say: you guys look ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic.”

Never a band to give away too much, too soon, twenty one pi­lots grad­u­ally re­sort back to a few older – but no less thrilling – tricks: CO2 can­nons blast­ing through Lane Boy; Josh back­flip­ping off of the piano dur­ing Hold­ing On To You; and Tyler scal­ing the venue scream­ing Car Ra­dio’s ‘and now I just sit in si­lence’ re­frain for those seated in the bal­cony. Sure, they’ve done it be­fore – but why would you want a one-off date to spoil what’s to come from their full arena tour next year?

The night ends as it al­ways does: with Tyler and Josh join­ing forces to per­form Trees’ drum solo on top of the crowd. More can­nons erupt be­hind them. Yel­low con­fetti cov­ers the venue. “We are twenty one pi­lots, and so are you,” Tyler smiles to an over­whelmed au­di­ence. It turns out they make one hell of an exit, too. EMILY CARTER

twenty one pi­lots: sin­gle­hand­edly solv­ing the prob­lem to Brix­ton’s strict park­ing pol­icy

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