Imagine Dragons Orlando Show Review
I remember the first time that I heard the contagious and addictive mastery of “It’s Time” thinking that this Las Vegas based quartet was a one hit wonder likely destined for a short stint on the pop charts. It didn’t take long to prove my first suspicions to be firmly off-base. The debut album, Night Visions was released in the Summer of 2012, and upon first listen made it quite clear that this was an excellent rock band with abundant staying power.
On Monday night, they traveled to the campus of UCF to make their first large venue appearance in the area. Their rise to the top seems quicker than it really was, and it is well-deserved. The band’s passionate fans witnessed an entertaining set that left everyone in the CFE Arena exhausted and energized; fans and band members, alike.
After entertaining sets from Paper Route and The Neigborhood, the crowd was amped up for the main attraction. Subdued music cranked through the PA, belying the fervor to follow, as the crew set-up a unique stage arrangement. One word: Drums! There were four smaller kits strategically placed across the stage, as well as Dan Platzman’s more standard kit. It was a unique set-up, but one that added a very creative element to the show.
The band came out to an extended drum intro to one of their minor hits “Round and Round,” and it was quickly apparent this crowd was ready to party. The majority of the attendees were likely high school age, but the crowd was quite diverse with plenty of UCF students, thirty-somethings, and older rockers (like myself) packing the house.
Dynamic front man, Dan Reynolds, was an energetic focal point throughout the show. During Amsterdam, he paused, surveyed the crowd and offered “We are so thankful… four years of playing in small clubs and sleeping on your couches, and now playing in venues like this with crowds like this…” Based on the show we witnessed, they are well-suited for these big stages. He had the crowd singing, waving, cheering and bouncing at will throughout the 80 minute set.
During “Hear Me,” I couldn’t help thinking back to the fantastic rock chemistry of Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant of Echo and the Bunnymen. It’s a dark song that offered a deeper glimpse into Reynolds’ style and a great spotlight on Wayne Sermon’s under-rated guitar playing. Sermon also tour it up with a great solo during “Cha Ching (Til We Grow Older).” Bassist Ben McKee had his turn in the spotlight when he ripped into a killer bass solo, that evolved into “Demons” later in the set. But, the music was really focused on the impressive percussion display.
Reynolds and Platzman wailed away on half a dozen of the tracks and the drum sound in the arena was damn near the best I’ve ever heard. The highlight of their playing was a phenomenal version of “Radioactive” – at one point, we had all four core band members standing at a different drum pounding away, and the effect was stunning.
Other highlights included a nice cover medley of Cold War Kids’ Hang Me Up To Dry” and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” a pairing that seemed odd at first blush but one that worked well. During “Underdog” the stage and crowd were covered with huge confetti filled beach balls, and we heard the crowd in great voice numerous times throughout the night, including a great version of “On Top of The World.”
The highlight for me? That same first song I had experienced from the band last summer. “It’s Time” started with a newly arranged guitar opening and a stark vocal from Reynolds. Six words in, and the crowd was loudly singing along – he gave them the second verse, and they nailed it in perfect unison – it was just beautiful. From there, the band kicked into the traditional version and the crowd exploded, ratcheting up the electricity a notch, and their voices actually became more impressive: a goose-bump moment for sure as the crowd was bathed in spotlights and lasers.
After the aforementioned version of “Radioactive,” the band exited the stage, and oddly, were followed by about 1/4 of the crowd, before they returned for one last sing-along with their encore closer “Nothing Left To Say,” an appropriate way to end a powerful rock experience.
(You can check out the full setlist below this review.)
We were not able to get a photographer to the show, so share any of your photos with us on Twitter, and if we get a good shot, we’ll add it to the review.
The opening acts on this billing were also well-worth seeing. Paper Route, were a four piece that reminded me of a cross between Against Me! and Wolfgang. Yeah, an odd pairing, but they sounded very good. The middle act was The Neighborhood, a quintet that just oozes cool California swagger. They’ve got a few killer songs, and a front man who drips with charisma in Jesse Rutherford.
This was also my first trip to UCF’s CFE Arena. It’s a great, modern venue to catch a rock show, and the sound and lighting was superb. When you add in the ease of parking and commuting to the venue, it’s even more appealing. I’ll definitely be back, and there’s a slew of good shows headed their way. Keep an eye on this website or Follow Us on Twitter for info on the upcoming shows.
Round and Round
Cha-Ching (Till We Grow Older)
(bass solo intro)
Hang Me Up To Dry / Stand By Me
On Top of the World
(drum solo intro)
Nothing Left to Say