On November 6th, 2015, Imagine Dragons returned to Nottingham since 2013 for their Smoke and Mirrors tour, this time performing in the Capital FM Arena.
For a support act, they brought along Sunset Sons, a four-piece UK/Australian indie-rock band that were successful in getting the crowd pumped and ready for Imagine Dragons to make their way onto stage. Their catchy guitar riffs seemed to hold a resemblance to Imagine Dragons’ own sound, generating an atmosphere among the crowd full of good vibes and excitable energy.
Imagine Dragons made their mark on the stage as they dimmed the house lights, and five vertically oblong screens stood tall on the stage and worked simultaneously to slowly light up the stage, the beginning notes of ‘Shots’ starting to play out. The band members made their way onto stage, lead singer Dan Reynolds being last out on stage with cheers evidently increasing for him. As soon as they all made their way out, Reynolds burst out with the first few words of Shots and the crowd started to dance and jump excitedly in time to the music.
The stage was arranged with a small platform ejected out into the standing crowd, allowing Dan Reynolds to interact with the crowd as he mostly spent his time out on there to sing. One particular song that allowed Dan to act almost as a solo act out on his own platform was a cover of ‘Forever Young’, sang almost acapella, invites for the crowd to join in met with a quiet but soulful rise of voices beautifully accompanying Dan’s own voice.
The high energy vibe of the crowd and the band themselves continued until the band slowed down to play ballad-type song ‘I Was Me’, a recently released single by Imagine Dragons. Reynolds took the time to explain the meaning behind this song, telling the crowd about his support for the Syrian refugees and how he’d visited a refugee camp. The song had been written to help raise money for the struggles of the refugees and all profits would be passed on to the charities helping Syria. The crowd responded with massive cheers and clapping, loudly showing their support for the song and the help the band were giving. While the song played out, the crowd was swept with lights from phones (and one bloke in standing I spotted holding up an actual lighter) and it was a truly magical moment as Reynolds’ calming voice floated out across the crowd as the melodic guitar and light percussion accompanied alongside it.
Soon though the hard hitting bass and percussion was brought back, as the band jumped straight into (my personal favourite) ‘I’m So Sorry’. This I felt was the moment that Imagine Dragons really powered out their signature music style, wowing the crowd with punchy bass and resonating percussion that left the crowd responding with high jumping and fist pumps into the air. The song was finished off with guitarist Daniel Sermon jamming out a slightly extended version of the ending to the song, loud guitar riffs vibrating through the arena, enough to leave the crowd’s ears positively ringing for the rest of the night.
‘On Top of the World’ was one song that brought surprises to the crowd, as Dan Reynolds left his small platform to jump down into the crowd and make his way along the standing and up one of the seated blocks, surprising fans sat at the back of the arena as he casually ran up the steps and high-fived seated fans. This small action was something that set the band apart from other acts, Dan Reynolds making it his ultimate ambition to up the game of whole crowd interaction.
The good vibes continued, the gig seeming like it couldn’t get any more high energy. Oh how I was wrong. ‘I Bet My Life’ (a second favourite of mine) was a stand alone song, Dan Reynolds’ own jumping encouraging the crowd to jump along with him, the standing crowd going hard as not a single person was left stood still. This one song was the one that encouraged the whole arena to stand, not one seat left filled by the middle of this song. I myself had been sat until this song came on, and I couldn’t sit for a second longer. The stage lighting was a massive accompaniment to this song that encouraged the energy of the crowd; just before the chorus started, the whole stage lights would dim as the band stayed silent for a few seconds, then suddenly all lit back up again, brighter than they had been during the verses, and the whole band seemed to be dancing and jumping along with the crowd as they played out what I believe to be their ‘happiest’ song.
Quickly after this song had finished, Dan sang the first few notes of ‘Radioactive’, the crowd immediately reacting as I watched hundreds of phones be raised to record the song that was Imagine Dragon’s first ever hit single back in 2012 and has grown a massive reputation as one of the band’s best ever songs. This was yet another song that allowed the band to show their full capability to bang out loud percussion and a thumping bass, setting adrenaline off in all the crowd and the band themselves. It’s no lie that the live version of Radioactive is 100% better than the original studio recorded version.
Both of Imagine Dragon’s studio albums don’t quite capture the percussion and bass as well as they do live, and you can only truly experience Imagine Dragons right when seeing them live. If I had one criticism of this gig, it would be that I felt it was far too short with only an hour and a half set list at most, and I could’ve happily listened to the band resonate out hard-hitting rock songs for at least another hour.
Featured image courtesy of Chuffmedia