Just when you thought there was no one left to rise out of the mediocrity of today’s “best” music a quartet from Las Vegas finds a way to bring an imaginative approach to rock and radiates above the rest.
Imagine Dragons played to a packed Key Arena on Tuesday in Seattle riding a wave of success that started nearly two years ago with their debut album Night Visions. The band played a 15-song set featuring 10 off their multiplatinum record.
The band started the evening with an instrumental showcasing a taste of what was to come with the various sets of drums displayed around the stage and then opened with “Fallen” from the 2013 re-release of Night Visions. “Tiptoe,” the first of many singles wrung out of Visions followed featuring a great guitar solo by guitarist Wayne Sermon.
The passionate “Hear Me” was third up on the night and singer Dan Reynolds opened “It’s Time” with a great set of vocals. The tribal sounding “Who We Are” from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack fused a perfect blend of Coldplay and Adam Ant into a great live performance.
The band is clearly taken aback by their success and rapid fan base. Several times during the show Reynolds paused to not only show appreciation to the crowd consisting of mostly fans under 25, but to seemingly absorb the moment. Just three years ago Imagine Dragons played a small club in Seattle to an audience of 100.
How much longer the band can ride their wave of success from Night Visions before the flame burns out is anyone’s guess, but they showed definitive talent and some serious chops. They look, act and sound like a veteran act wise beyond their years. The incorporation of the various drum sets and the heavy and successful use of the bass drum is something no other band is doing – at least on the scale ID is using them – and separates them from so many of the everything-sounds-the-same folk and pop rock dominating the airwaves today.
Sermon plays a great guitar and opened “Amsterdam” with a solo reminiscent of the 90s grunge era and drummer Daniel Platzman pounds it home like a hard core rocker. He shined with a drum solo to open “On Top of the World.” Much of bassist Ben McGee’s work is a bit overshadowed by the heavy use of bass drums.
Reynolds showed great range especially on “Cha-Ching” which also featured one of several jams the band used to finish songs. Reynolds often jumped on one of the many drums sets and pounded like a mad man releasing years of pent up rage and the furious beat along with the rest of the band members’ contributions pelted the audience with sound waves.
The only cover song performed was Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” A childhood favorite of the band, it was a good effort, they certainly didn’t obliterate it, but it did show Reynolds vocal limits as he failed to get anywhere near Geddy Lee’s higher octaves and, not too surprisingly, the five of them (one touring musician) were unable to match what the three members of Rush do so well.
The big question for Imagine Dragons is whether or not “Night Visions” is a one-album wonder. All too many bands, it seems, who rocket to the stratosphere of success plummet back to earth on their sophomore effort. However, if last year’s new single “Monster” is any indication don’t expect these dragons to go extinct anytime soon.
“Monster” simply rocked-hard with a great chorus, solid guitar and McGee transitioning back and forth from an acoustic guitar to bass flawlessly. It’s a great song and snuggled in nicely on the setlist just before the very appropriate “On Top of the World” – a fun, happy song that you swear belongs on the sound track to a Disney animated movie.
Imagine Dragons saved the best, of course, for last. Reynolds didn’t need to sing much on “Demons” as the crowd took over vocal duties but the band pounded this one out like a solid anthem. Finally, the band closed the first set with their most popular song.
To witness “Radioactive” live is worth the price of admission.
“Radioactive” may get overplayed on the radio but the band doesn’t just take it up a notch for the live show they take it to new heights. Thankfully, they don’t mess with it like the disaster it was on Saturday Night Live last week, instead they kept faithful to the original recording (and whoever thought dub step would finally make sense?) then culminated with a brawl of drumming that featured every member hitting something with a drumhead.
Somehow, after getting their breath, the band successfully encored with “Nothing Left to Say” and really after “Radioactive” there was nothing left to say but the band reached down and pulled out another gem to close the evening.
Imagine Dragons Seattle (Key Arena) Set List:
- Hear Me
- It’s Time
- Who We Are
- The River
- Tom Sawyer
- On Top of the World
- Nothing Left to Say