Live music has the uncanny ability to alter perceptions.
It makes you appreciate the art of the performance when the lead vocalists’ voice fill your head, and feel your body reverberate with the beat of the drums or the slap of the bass – something that can’t replicated from a screen and even if you have a bunch of amps surrounding you.
Opening act The Temper Trap shines on the big stage. Frontman Dougy Mandangi shows his brilliant ability to command the room with pleading ballad ‘Trembling Hands’ and slow rock ‘Love Lost’. However, even their flawless performance of their hit ‘Sweet Disposition’ didn’t merit the appreciation they deserved from the crowd – not surprising considering the demographic.
Imagine Dragons very own sound is built upon delivering on all those elements. With their recipe book of darker melodies and anthemic choruses, it was expected that the Las Vegas outfit of four (and an unknown guest fifth member) put on a high-octane performance. Based on the response from the all-ages crowd that completely packed the Qudos Bank Arena, the band very much gave them the performance they longed for.
Opening with space-funk number, ‘I Don’t Know Why’ from their latest Evolve album was a perfect appetiser to showcase growth in their sound, but was yet grounded by front-man Dan Reynolds’ signature powerful growls. The mid-tempo track, with the first of many confetti cannons going off was what needed to launch the charged-up crowd.
The band reset the energy with a slow Spanish-inspired guitar intro before breaking the quiet on the chorus from ‘Believer’, another recent hit which might be their best play on a gradual build up and all-out, ferocious chorus.
Reynolds took the opportunity to lament on his frustrations with violence, referring to the plague of massacre shootings that circulates our news too often. The band’s cover of Alphaville’s ‘Forever Young’ was dedicated to the Santa Fe High School tragedy that happened that very morning, and the crowd showed their condolences by uniting in the anthemic chorus accompanied by a glittering sea of phone lights that penetrated the darkness.
Despite going into the Imagine Dragons concert with rather low expectations, I would say the live music aspect played its part in getting me on my feet for songs I would normally hit ‘skip’.
One in particular is ‘Whatever It Takes’, one of their most unique tracks off Evolve when Reynolds showed his vocal versatility by dropping a few bars of rap in the introduction. The lacklustre chorus was salvaged by guitarist Wayne Sermon and bassist Ben McKee’s battling it out onstage.
Lighter songs such as ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Mouth of the River’ are typical anthems that delivered on energy, but was rather forgettable. Tropical house ‘Start Over’ was unforgettable though – in a bad way.
What brought it back was hits from their debut album with ‘Demons’, an ode to Reynold’s battle with mental health and crowd pleaser ‘On Top of The World’ which jubilant vibe was heightened with a rain of balloons that bounced among the crowd, and probably the fifth confetti cannon going off by this point of the night.
Although dynamism is essential in every band, Imagine Dragons only deliver on either the intense edgy, or electronic feel-good accompanied with their ability to pack energy into large-venue performances. It only makes sense to show their versatility with slower tracks, if they don’t just end up as album fillers.
With the exception of a few songs that tip over to boring and their tendency to be over-repetitive in the guise of anthems, Imagine Dragons certainly add some colour when factoring in the performance aspect – from the playfulness of Sermon and McKee, to Reynold’s domination of the stage.
Closing the night was ‘Radioactive’ – undoubtedly the band’s most iconic song from their EP, which unleashed into a frenzy onstage. An interlude of drumming, which each of boys participated with their own set of drums was the perfect build up for the even stronger second chorus that sent the entire arena into a final eruption of singing and dancing.
Imagine Dragons may be a sucker for anthems, but it’s a format they thrive at and are able to deliver on an epic scale. They may not be keeping us on our toes at the moment but it will be interesting to see how they evolve, hopefully with a few less confetti cannons.
Words by Janelle Tai
Check out the full photo gallery by Josh Groom –