Every couple of decades a band comes along that re-writes the rules of popular music and sky rockets to the top, both literally and figuratively. Imagine Dragons’ debut album, “Night Visions” was received with mixed reviews for some reason, I’m not sure what people heard in it that made them score it so negatively but this is exactly why I don’t partake in album reviews. Just because something is different doesn’t make it in bad, in fact being different is usually what makes something truly remarkable. 4 tours later the band has gone from playing mid-sized venues like the Electric Factory to selling out arenas across the country. Imagine Dragons are currently out on what is set to be their last tour on their album aptly titled “Into the Night.” After this one wraps up they are headed back into the studio to record what will most likely become the most anticipated 2nd album in the past 10 years.
The Susquehanna Bank Center was full well before the band’s schedule start time of 9pm, everyone had their newly bought tour shirts and led bracelets on ready to experience Imagine Dragons one last time this year. Now I’m sure some of the fans at the show last Friday will be making the trek to Delaware to catch the band on Firefly Festival this year but for the majority of us this would be the last chance we had to see them. Their stage set up was elaborate, that is actually probably an understatement. The addition of tall side stage pieces and a walk way into the standing room gave lead singer, Dan Reynolds, plenty of room to run around and make sure every fan got his attention.
Promptly at 9pm the light dimmed to a stunning hazy purple as fog was pumped on to the screen and music began to play through the speakers all around the venue. The large circular LED screen flickered to life almost like an eye opening first thing in the morning and as the spotlights flickered to life in the same manner you could see the band walking out. Quickly, actually almost instantly, they broke into “Fallen” and Dan Reynolds came running down the walkway as Co2 cannons erupted all around him. I’m not sure if the fans or the photographers/security were more surprised by the Co2 because it created a brief but very harsh cold air that certainly woke everyone up.
The night never lost it’s pace, it started quick and Imagine Dragons never let up on their quickness. There was plenty of jamming in between songs and even in the middle of some but it didn’t take long for the crowd to be warmed up. They already were treated to a great time by all the opening acts and Imagine Dragons just picked up on that energy and took it to a whole new level. The 4th song, “It’s Time,” was a huge crowd favorite of the night and the fans took over the vocals for most of the song it seemed because they were singing so loudly. I want to touch on the fact that every member of the band got the spotlight at one point or another. Both Ben McKee and Wayne Sermon delivered killer solos on their respective instruments and Daniel Platzman had plenty of all out drum jam sessions during the night. The venue kept the physical spotlight on Dany Reynolds as he ran around the whole night but the rest of the band deserve credit for their stellar musicianship as well. Vocally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sing quite like Dan Reynolds though. Every lyric is heart felt and so technically sound that it is simply unbelievable, not to mention the fact that he made sure every fan within his viewing distance got his attention. I caught him waiving to people, pointing into people’s iPhones and even starting a conversation with a fan at one point. Most importantly he was one of the most humble vocalists I have ever seen perform on such a large stage.
I don’t want to say that musicians get jaded when they make it big but stereotypically it tends to happen, but not too Imagine Dragons. They may be performing for 10,000 people but they make it feel as intimate as a club show and as heartfelt as a band who is still trying to make it which I find to be a very great attribute to have. The sheer size of the venue allowed their magnificent stage show to shine beautifully. Each song was timed with carefully planned visuals and live streaming from video personnel who were positioned all over the place. The colors ranged across the whole spectrum and mixed together in ways that were truly remarkable. I can’t say enough good things about their visuals/productions on this tour really – props go out to the designer of this one because you did a great job with it.
Their 15 song setlist was filled with every hit and even a roaring cover of “Tom Sawyer” by Rush. If i had to pick a highlight it would be the acoustic performance of “30 Lives” dedicated to Tyler Robinson who lost is life to cancer. The song gave me and every one else in the venue chills and was a great way to honor Tyler. I also really enjoyed hearing “On Top of the World,” and loved seeing them drop huge balloons full of confetti from the rafter for the fans to pop. (Review continued below setlist)
Setlist from March 7th – Camden, New Jersey :
Who We Are
Cha-Ching (Till We Grow Older)
Tom Sawyer – Rush Cover 30 Lives
On Top of the World
Radioactive ENCORE: Bleeding Out / Monster / Nothing Left to Say
From start to finish Imagine Dragons put on the best concert I have ever had the chance to witness. I’ve seen hundreds and maybe even thousands of bands over the the years but nothing comes close to this one. The stage set up, the musical talent, the production values, all of it where just such top level that I can’t see them playing in anything smaller than an arena ever again. In fact if their next album comes out soon enough I could see them moving up to even bigger arena’s like Lincoln Financial Field. Time for a pun, Imagine Dragons are On Top of the World and their is no going back for them at this point. I highly recommend that you get out to see them before they go into studio, either on the Into the Night Tour or at a summer festival. I don’t want to compare them to another great band like The Beatles or Muse because Imagine Dragons are nothing like them in reality, they are this culmination of every genre this generation has and are poised to become the biggest thing music has ever seen. Moral of the story? Never let a few critics tell you that you can’t succeed, Imagine Dragons are living proof to what is possible when you believe in your art.