Since the Irish release of ‘Night Visions’, Imagine Dragons‘ popularity has grown at an incredible pace. As if a top ten album wasn’t enough, they sold out two nights in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre with Goldenplec checking out the second of the two.
Dutch band, Soul Sister Dance Revolution, start off the night. While many opening acts have the opportunity to play their best five or six songs, SSDR play a full set. During that time neither the quality of music from the stage or the enthusiasm from the audience wanes. The band declare that it’s their job to “warm you up” and they do just that. They play rock music and manage to successfully build a bridge between American rock and British indie, easily winning over the audience with tracks from their debut album. Many of the assembled are already familiar with the music, singing along with frontman Thomas van der Want, however it is keyboardist Camiel Meiresonne who steals the show. When he isn’t behind the keys, he’s dancing insanely around the stage, tambourine in hand, often precariously close to the edge. It’s a great set, with an equally great reaction from an audience that’s truly fired up for the headliners.
The lights dim to reveal a row of lights on the ground, either side of the drumkit. It’s a simple stage set up, with the band’s instruments and some extra drums and percussion across the front of the stage, and one set slightly to the left in front of the main kit. The stage’s main focal point is the massive bass drum placed beside singer Dan Reynolds’ mic stand. As the band begin, the dramatic intro makes fantastic use of the percussive instruments on stage. This smoothly changes into Round and Round, much to squeals of delight from the mainly late teen early twenty-something audience.
This song sets the tone for the rest of the evening, with the crowd singing every word in a good old ‘hands in the air’ gig. At first viewing the extra percussion on stage may seem excessive, but the band have incorporated it beautifully into their set. Songs from ‘Night Visions’ may have been all over the radio for the past while but it’s live where Imagine Dragons really come into their own. Their songs are perfect for a live environment, with breaks and opportunities for the audience to get involved and become part of the night.
An extra touring member, Ryan Walker, provides some extra instrumentation with guitar, keys and the memorable mandolin line on It’s Time. The track is one of the standouts of the night, with the band beginning and ending by hitting out the rhythmic beat on their own bodies. During the set, they play the different drums placed around the stage and end up promptly dropping drum sticks on the ground, keeping a member of their crew constantly busy in pick up mode.
The atmosphere in The Olympia is something special, with a feelgood synergy between the audience and the band that is often associated with huge stadium rock gigs. The tempo is lowered for a beautiful acoustic version of Thirty Lives, with Wayne Sermon on guitar and drummer Daniel Platzman on violin. This is probably the only song of the night where not all the audience are familiar with the song, but it shows a versatility within the band and a sincerity in Dan Reynolds’ vocals that can sometimes be lost in a bigger sounding rock song. While three of the band take a recess after this performance, it gives bassist Ben McKee the chance to show of his solo bass skills.
A beat boxing version of Cold War Kids’ Hang Me Out To Dry follows, running seamlessly into a jazzy Stand By Me. Imagine Dragons know how to kick start a sing-along and are masters of segues, using their percussive sounds beautifully to move back to their own original music and to the reggae tinged Underdog.
Suddenly, a line of people run from stage right to front and centre stage, throwing huge balloons into the crowd. As Top of the World plays there’s a complete carnival atmosphere in the venue, and the balloons pop to shower the crowd in confetti. The audience still have some energy as the first bars of Radioactive fill the venue, making sure their voices are louder than the music, singing with all their might.
Olé Olé Olé, a Spanish chant of delight, fills the Olympia and rightly so. Imagine Dragons have entertained fantastically tonight – with their tribal drums, musicality, harmonies and their songs, you just have to sing along. The band return for one more, and Nothing Left To Say builds to its climax, giving the audience the chance to raise their voices one last time. For the band, it’s hard to fake those smiles.