Imagine Dragons – Still riding high on top of the world

With their yearlong tour in its final leg, Imagine Dragons finally brought their “Smoke + Mirrors” show to the Rockhal on Thursday night.

It’s been just under 3 years since they crept up from nowhere and took control of the airwaves across the globe with their smash hit single “Radioactive”. It became the longest charting single in US history, staying in the top 100 for a staggering 87 weeks. They were also the second most streamed group in the world in 2014 behind only Coldplay, which isn’t bad going for a band who initially plied their trade doing covers in Vegas casino lounges only a few years ago.

Fist up last night was Sunset Sons, a British/ Australian band who found themselves on BBC’s Sound of 2015 longlist last year. Their surfer looks met nicely with their keyboard driven melodic songs, which wouldn’t sound to out of place on a later Kings of Leon album. This support tour is a huge break for a band like them and they look to be taking it with both hands. They look like a band aiming to be filling arenas on their own sometime soon. They held a stage presence and performance that didn’t look out of place and even managed to get the crowd clapping along by the end of their set.

By the time Imagine Dragons took to the stage the anticipation was palpable, and it didn’t take long for the energy to transmit from crowd to stage and back, as they kicked off the evening with their dance rock single “Shots” off their latest album “Smoke + Mirrors”.

The whole evening was awash with everything you’d expect from an arena filling band, the giant spectacle of blinding lights, large screens either side of the stage and their very own runway into the crowd. Lead singer Dan Reynolds took advantage of this runway from the start and got up close with the crowd all night.

There is no denying the sound the band has cultivated fits perfectly with the Rockhal surrounding. With their vast sweeping choruses and bellowing synths they contain lots of aspects of their native Vegas colleagues The Killers and bands such as Coldplay. They managed to blend what is essentially a rock band but with touches of electro and synths and pull it into mainstream pop appeal.

There was even time for a few surprising covers from Alphavill’s “Forever Young” which got a big cheer from the older section of the crowd, to a stripped back version of Radiohead’s “Creep” and Blur’s “Song 2” which of course got the crowd jumping around.

“Polaroid” provided the band the perfect opportunity for a sing off between the two halves of the crowd, all of whom seemed happy to participate. This was where Reynolds charisma came to the fore as he had the audience in the palm of his hand singing along.

Their inner rock band was prevalent throughout, always itching to break free. Daniel Sermon on guitar got his few minutes of uninterrupted guitar solo before launching into their riff heavy “I’m So Sorry”. Daniel Platzman was not going home without a solo of his own on the drums later too.

However it’s the pop anthems of “Demons” and “Radioactive” which put this band on the map and has allowed them the opportunity to take this show to thousands each night. There is no denying they struck gold with the formula of mainstream pop to rock styled lyrics and delivery.

Like most overnight success stories there have been years of hard work to get them to that point and all that experience was evident on last night’s performance as they worked the crowd from start to finish. As the night closed with “The Fall” and confetti fluttered down from the roof, they can be happy with the fact that they sent another arena full of thousands home happy once more.

14/01/16 @ Rockhal


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