Kirstie Sutherland previews Rae Morris' new tour, telling Redbrick it is not one to be missedWritten by Kirstie Sutherland on 19th March 2018
Live Review: Imagine Dragons
Imagine Dragons head to Genting Arena to deliver an explosive show, reviews Music Critic Barney Whiteside
Imagine Dragons came to Birmingham on 24 February 2018 as part of their Evolve world tour. I reviewed Evolve when it was the released back in summer 2017 and thought it was excellent. The opening act, K.Flay, put on an energetic and powerful hour-long opening set that showcased unusual rhythm, complex composition and a range of musicality from all her band members, on top of her very distinctive rough vocals. Overall, I was impressed with her as she was above average quality for a supporting act at a gig of any kind.
The main event started with the lights dimming and increasingly loud atmospheric noises building up. Then, finally, the music broke into the opening riff from ‘I Don’t Know Why’ and the screen changed to the Evolve artwork, which simultaneously revealed the silhouettes of the band standing together behind the drum kit in front of the stage. As the song went on, the members left the formation, taking their places on stage by the first chorus. Listening to this song on the album, it gradually builds throughout, however, when played live, they waste no time and bring the first chorus in at full force. This set a powerful precedent for the rest of the show and made the entire stadium shake with energy.
“The opening riff of ‘I Don’t Know Why’ set a powerful precedent for the rest of the show and made the entire stadium shake with energy
I don’t believe any of the next few songs were played even remotely similarly to what you would hear on the studio album. Each arrangement was injected with a new energy that manifested in either a new part or a different vibe. I’ll make it clear now, this was a good thing. The most common change that was made was that guitarist Wayne Sermon played much heavier chords and drummer Daniel Platzmann played much more involved and interesting patterns. These changes made the band feel unleashed and by comparison made every song recorded on the albums feel almost tame.
After a few songs, singer Dan Reynolds talked about how it’s a strange time that we live in and how easy it is to become disenfranchised with the world and the news and politics and in these times how important it is that we remember to care for ourselves and each other. He managed to make this deeply emotional speech feel intimate and personal to every single person in the room, which just speaks to his level of charisma. This speech ended with him saying, ‘It’s time for a change…’, leading directly into him leading the audience in singing ‘It’s Time’.
This was followed by several more songs ranging across all of their albums. Notable performances were ‘I’ll Make It Up To You’, which on the album sounds ever so slightly generic, but, live, was a completely different story. The song included much more involved drum and guitar parts and reached a climax with an extended guitar solo, with guitarist Wayne Sermon stepping forward to the end of the so-called ‘vanity ramp’ and showing off the true extent of his raw technical talent. The other great performance was ‘Gold’ from Smoke And Mirrors, an unexpected inclusion but a very welcome one. The arrangement included much more raw noise and power from all parts and made it clear this was how the song was originally composed, perfectly representing the nature of the Imagine Dragons live experience.
“The arrangement of ‘Gold’ included much more raw noise and power from all parts and made it clear this was how the song was originally composed, perfectly representing the nature of the Imagine Dragons live experience
After a pause, Dan started singing the intro to ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ by fellow Las Vegas band The Killers. He then addressed the audience: ‘A few years ago I was diagnosed with depression’, he announced, saying that he wanted to destigmatise the topic, ‘I thought for the longest time that it made me broken, that seeing a therapist made me weak. I want to reach out to anyone else struggling with their own demons and let you know that you are not alone and that your life is always, always worth living.’ He paused as he notices a sign in the crowd that reads ‘YOU SAVED ME’, then chuckled and said, ‘I love you’, which makes the crowd cheer. ‘Music saved me’, he continued. ‘Music was my release, and when I started to come out of my darkness I wrote this song. I hope you’ll sing it with me’. This led into the wildly popular ‘Demons’.
“The entire set showcased exciting arrangements of all of their best songs, encased in a deeply intimate experience that was performed with an extraordinary amount of charisma and energy
The second act started when a spotlight appeared on a mysterious centre stage and the band were revealed in a small formation, like a five-sided dice brandishing acoustic instruments. They proceeded to perform a beautiful acoustic set including ‘I Bet My Life’, ‘Warriors’, ‘Bleeding Out’ and ‘It Comes Back To You’. When they came back to the main stage they performed a highlight track off the new album, ‘Thunder’, another song that received the vamped-up live treatment and came across fantastically in person. Halfway through, Dan was joined by K.Flay, who sang a freestyle verse in place of the usual middle bridge section, which worked surprisingly well and led to the two singers rocking out to the last chorus of the song in their hyped-up, energetic way, with plenty of spinning and head banging.
This led to the final act of the show, which involved renditions of their old favourites, plus a rounding up of the best songs from Evolve. A definite highlight was the song ‘Start Over’, which featured an awesome new slap funk bass line leading into an intense bass solo which I have never heard in any Imagine Dragons song, but makes me very excited, now knowing that bassist Ben McKee has an appetite for this style. Other stand-out songs of the final act were flagship song of Evolve, ‘Believer’ and old favourite ‘On Top Of The World’. This was topped off by an epic encore that included ‘Walking The Wire’, ‘The Fall’ and finally ‘Radioactive’. The entire set ran for 2 hours and 15 minutes, showcasing exciting arrangements of all of their best songs encased in a deeply intimate experience that was performed with an extraordinary amount of charisma and energy. I cannot wait to get the opportunity to see them perform live again and I would highly recommend anyone who gets a chance to see them to take it.