Concert Review with PHOTOS: Imagine Dragons


By Rachel Froggatt

Artist: Imagine Dragons 

Date / Venue: Monday May 21st, 2018 - Spark Arena, Auckland

Energy and generosity characterised an exceptional Imagine Dragons gig at Spark Arena last night.

As the final notes of Sweet Disposition faded and opening act, Australian alternative band The Temper Trap left the stage after an entertaining set, the lights came up to showcase a sold-out audience. As changeover began at rapid pace on-stage, accompanied by a classical music soundtrack, the crowd began to entertain itself. A Mexican wave of epic proportions did the rounds, ramping up anticipation greatly. The seated composition of the arena was interesting to see and commented upon by many around us. We concluded that it must be to accommodate for the very youngest of Imagine Dragons’ fans – many a pre-teen was spotted, accompanied by their parents. The crowd diversity was immense, clearly demonstrating the universal appeal of this Vegas band.

The lights dropped dramatically at around 8.45pm and the opening credits began, with a haunting video and sound show setting up the Evolve storyline for the night. The band entered in darkness. Frontman Dan Reynolds appeared in shorts, singlet, white pull up socks and sneakers with a denim jacket thrown on over the top. In fitting with his attire, several layers of which he lost during the remainder of the night, he casually hit the first huge note of I Don’t Know Why and we were away.

From there, the hits only got bigger, with Believer next up. Starting slow, Reynolds built the song in layers toward its crescendo, with the crowd enthusiastically “oohing” along. With characteristic heavy beats and timed laser lights, this was the first song of the night trigger the dry ice cannons.

Reynolds then took a moment to address crowd, asking them to leave everything at the door and enjoy the concert as equals, free of politics, religion and inequity. He reflected on the Texas school shooting in America and begged for change. Apparently, an Australian reviewer had said a few days previously that talking about this topic could be construed as politics. Reynolds was forthright, bellowing, “losing our young people is not politics!” This was followed by a heartfelt Forever Young.

The mood turned upbeat again, as the band launched into Gold rapidly followed by Whatever it Takes. By this time, Reynolds was shirtless and most of the women in the audience were speechless. His athletic physique belied recently well publicised health issues and his energetic dancing certainly gave no indication of any concerns. His personal interaction with the crowd was immense, covering the whole stage and making heavy eye contact. He even danced in tune with concert goers at the front of the stage, making one lady’s night as they mimicked each other’s dance moves in complete sync. Not long after this, Reynolds entered the crowd, running to the other end of the Arena and propelling himself into an epic chin up to touch the hands of fans reaching down from the first floor.

Back on stage, the band roared through energetic guitar and bass renditions of I’ll Make It Up To You, Mouth of the River, Yesterday and Start Over, with confetti joining the dry ice cannons in ramping up the crowd. In a quiet interlude following this, Reynolds took a moment to share his personal experiences with depression and anxiety. He explained his journey and implored the audience to ask for help if needed, before firing into Demons, a reflection on his experiences.

Launching himself into the crowd once again, this time Reynolds climbed over the barriers and up into the top tiers of the Arena. With the crowd distracted, the rest of the band made their way to the other end of the venue, emerging onto a special acoustic stage. Reynolds joined them and held the audience in the palm of his hand, with an emotional delivery of Next To You. Moving through the crowd around the acoustic stage during the next song, Warriors, he was accosted by a lady of maturing years, who managed to give him the giant kiss we all wanted to give him at that point, much to both his and the crowd’s amusement. I Bet My Life came next, epic in all its acoustic glory and the nets above opened, dropping huge white balloons for the crowd to bat around the Arena.

Back on the main stage, the band thundered through Thunder and the crowd was on its feet in its entirety, storming through the words together and applauding the drum and guitar solos from Daniel Platzman and Wayne Sermon, respectively. These solos, including another from bassist Ben McKee, illustrated the exceptional musicianship of each band member. Next we were Walking the Wire together before the crowd went nuts for the opening bars of Radioactive. This chart topper, which changed the fortunes of Imagine Dragons back in 2012, was well worth the wait. Reynolds, Sermon and the rest of the band threw everything they had at it, including percussion solos that threatened to blow the roof off the Arena. The extended song replaced an encore, before the band sauntered off just before 11.

Without doubt, Imagine Dragons is a must see. Reynolds, in a way uncharacteristic of bands at this level, is generous with the crowd in a very authentic way. Make sure you bring your dancing shoes!