Twenty One Pilots – Bandito Tour Review

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Twenty One Pilots + Bear Hands @ Centre Bell

I would argue, till you’re blurry in the face, that The Bandito Tour is the best arena tour of 2019 to date.

To the uninitiated, it may have seemed like the Bell Centre was holding a bee convention, judging from the black and yellow wearing fans in the line-up.

Twenty One Pilots don’t just have fans…they have fan-atics, in a good sense. You could tell from the seemingly endless snaking lineup for the merch booth before the show.

Last time I saw Twenty One Pilots was the second of two sold out shows at MTelus. They blew me away back then.  For this show, they went nuclear.

MTelus to Bell Center is quite a jump across the Trench, which is the album they are touring.  

A little mellower than their sophomore release, yet it can get quite catchy. 

Bear Hands

Bear Hands played a nice, tight set.  Musically, there was nothing that really that stood out…at least at the beginning.

I was smack dab in the middle of the reds at The Bell Centre, which made the first band sound echo-y.

For one song, all I could make out was “Spirit Cat, Backseat Driver” which I’m pretty sure were not the lyrics…but a cool band name, nonetheless.

It got more interesting when Dylan Rau introduced a song about being watched by Lizard People.   That seemed to get a rouse out of the crowd.  “Reptilians” was the best song so far.

Another song was dedicated for all the night owls out there. “2 AM” had a nice 90s/00s melody, like the Happy Mondays.  

They finally showed some energy with “Giant” which ended the set and got the crowd clapping along.

Twenty One Pilots

At 7:56 PM, a little tease of yellow lights on a large black curtain.  The crowd started to cheer.  I had a feeling the crowd would be loud tonight!

At 8h20 PM, the experience started.

Only two pilots were needed to fill the Centre Bell with energy, the other 19 could take the day off. 

Josh Dun walked out with a torch as Tyler Joseph, sporting a balaclava, rose from the stage on a burning car.  They started with “Jumpsuit”, a high energy song, the first off their new album.  It also included a big hit of confetti.  This is just the first song!

A smooth transition into “Levitate”, all the while the car was still burning but was slowly lowered back into the unknown.  “Fairly Local” started and Josh’s drum set rises, mirrored by Tyler, who was on a platform that went even higher.

When the song ended, he stood at the precipice and fell into the nothingness of the stage.  The crowd went wild.

Seconds later, he appeared directly behind me, in the Desjardins Section above, and continued the song.  Mind blown.

A video was next projected of the red Blurryface beanie which eventually was lowered to the stage, hovering over the microphone.  Tyler put it on and “Stressed Out” started.  

The crowd sang along at the top of their lungs.  It gave you goose bumps.    

Josh on drums is intensity personified.  He pounds on those drums like the Poang chair tester at Ikea…non-stop.

Tyler then went behind his piano for “Heathens”, again with backing vocals from a packed Bell Centre.  

Song after song, flowing together effortlessly, enhanced with insane lights and stage props.  It was truly a performance of high magnitude, akin to a Cirque show.  It even had Josh do his famous back-flip off the piano.  

Tyler shared that he wrote the next song, “Legend”, for his grandfather, who passed away a year ago.  “It’s worth it to keep going to the bitter end.”, he shared.

Tyler admitted earlier in the evening that he was having a hard day.  Being in front of the Montreal crowd got his spirits up. I can’t help feeling that Tyler, a man that is not afraid to admit he is sometimes in a dark place, can bring some light into the lives of the youths in the audience.  I believe therein lies his appeal.  The fans can relate to these feelings and as they sing the lyrics, they experience a shared connection through feelings.  

Suddenly, a bridge appeared from above that crosses the whole floor.  “Nico and the Niners” was sung above the General Admission floor fans.  

Tyler eventually went to the end of the bridge to a second stage by the sound consoles. Now the back of the room was the front of the room.

They would play 4 songs on that stage.  “Smithereens” would be played as a sea of phone flashlights would shine in the background. 

During “Lane Boy”, Josh takes off his shirt to an arena full of cheers.  He’s got better six packs that the depanneur!

After “Pet Cheetah”, Josh walked back across the bridge and revealed a “Bonjour Montreal” shirt, much to the joy of the crowd.

The big sing along was “Ride”, which was so loud from the crowd.  

At the end of “Morph”, Josh took his “surfing on the crowd drum kit” and played a spirited rendition of “Seven Nation Army” followed by this own personal anthem.

During “Car Radio”, Tyler ran to the back of the arena and climbed on a perch to finish the end of the song.  Like I said…Cirque meets Rock.

The Set ended. 

A Karaoke style song next played: “Truce” The lyrics were plastered on the big screens to encourage all to sing along.  They did.

They finished with “Trees”, one of my favorites, with both Tyler and Josh hovering over the crowd on boards, hitting drums while confetti fell from the ceiling. Wow…simply wow!

The only band that has come this close to filling their presence at the Bell Centre was Coldplay, but these two boys took it to the next level.

Twenty One Pilots are the voice of this generation.  They are vulnerable and authentic at the same time.  There are songs of sadness and songs of celebration as well.

When we all sang “Stay alive, stay alive for me” from “Truce”, I could see how the music of Twenty One Pilots could help our youths live.  Despite the depression and anxiety, their message is to continue living the best life you can.  Become a grandfather, a grandmother…to the bitter end.  

Yes, there were cars on fire, incredible lights. multiple stages…but take away all the gimmicks and you have two boys who seem to create music from an authentic place.  They don’t hide their scars, they help you overlook them.  That’s a gift.  

Tonight, we saw two pilots with a two-hour flight path to the stratosphere, yet one foot on the ground.  That takes talent and humility.  Nailed it.


Reviewer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube.

Photos – Kieron Yates

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