Belfast Telegraph

US band Twenty One Pilots' balaclava Belfast gig glamorised terrorism, fumes TUV

Twenty One Pilots perform at the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 2nd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Twenty One Pilots perform at the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 2nd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Twenty One Pilots perform at the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 2nd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Twenty One Pilots perform at the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 2nd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Twenty One Pilots perform at the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 2nd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Twenty One Pilots perform at the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 2nd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Twenty One Pilots perform at the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 2nd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Twenty One Pilots perform at the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 2nd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Twenty One Pilots perform at the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 2nd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Twenty One Pilots perform at the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 2nd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Twenty One Pilots perform at the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 2nd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Twenty One Pilots perform at the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 2nd 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Victoria Leonard

By Victoria Leonard

An American band has been accused of glamorising terrorism after a performer wore a balaclava and a burning car was used as a prop for their Belfast gig.

Twenty One Pilots performed at the SSE Arena on Saturday as part of the Bandito Tour, which is in promotion of their fifth album, Trench.

However, the burning car prop and the donning of a balaclava have been condemned as "inappropriate" due to the history of the Troubles.

It came just days after Belfast rap group Kneecap were slammed for their "outrageous behaviour" after they led chants of "Get the Brits out now" at a gig in the Empire - which Prince William and Kate Middleton visited 24 hours earlier.

One of the trio - DJ Provai - reportedly wore a balaclava to that event.

TUV leader Jim Allister hit out at Twenty One Pilots, claiming that the "imagery was inappropriate".

"Balaclavas are the stock-in-trade images of terrorism in this part of the world, so to don them at this sort of event inevitably has the consequence of sanitising or glamorising that with which they are associated in this part of the world, namely terrorism," he said.

"Whatever they thought they were doing, this is hardly the sort of imagery that Belfast needs.

"Balaclavas still speak loudly in Northern Ireland of the evils of terrorism, with many still struggling to cope with the devastation and murder wrought by balaclava-clad killers.

"I would be very surprised if nobody associated with this operation has any knowledge of the Troubles, which has been beamed around the world for decades.

"We also have to bear in mind the age profile of probably an impressionable audience - that's another reason why this imagery was inappropriate.

"It does make you wonder what effort or steps those who manage the SSE Arena took before allowing their premises to be used."

One 19-year-old fan who attended the concert told the Belfast Telegraph she didn't feel the band had acted "in a malicious way", but added that "maybe they should have done a wee bit of research" ahead of the gig.

The Co Londonderry student added: "I thought it was amazing. I could see how some people would be upset, but I don't think it was meant in a malicious way.

"I didn't think of terrorism when I saw the flaming car or the balaclava.

"They didn't use any lyrics which I would have considered to be offensive.

"I went with my partner and another friend and they didn't find it offensive either.

"It wouldn't put me off going back again.

"It's up to each person's personal opinion - it didn't offend me.

"But bands do possibly need to be more careful and do more research before coming here."

The SSE Arena said: "The Bandito Tour performed at The SSE Arena, Belfast, by Twenty One Pilots on Saturday evening featured the same content across their world tour.

"As a venue, the arena does not have input into the format and content of world tour performances."

No response had been received from representatives of Twenty One Pilots at the time of going to press.

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