By: Adam Harrison (@AdamRHarrison) –
Toronto got “Radioactive” Monday night as Las Vegas-based indie rockers Imagine Dragons lit up Echo Beach. The band has come a long way in just a year and one album, now playing to a sold out crowd of 6,500 passionate and youthful fans. The screams echoed across the beach all night for the four-piece band.
Now on their second visit to Toronto this year, Imagine Dragons upgraded their stage show with lighting galore and at least half-a-dozen various drums scattered across the stage. Still touring for their incredibly successful debut album, Night Visions, they extended their impressive 90-minute set beyond their debut album, opening with “Round and Round” from their 2012 Continued Silence EP. The Mohawk-mullet rockin’ front man, Dan Reynolds, exploded onto the stage with endless energy, fueling the budding fans into hysteria. It only go wilder as they transitioned into the energetic anthem “Amsterdam” and “Tiptoe”.
Although stretching their set thin at times, Imagine Dragons effectively extended many of their songs with jam sessions, solos and even a cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”. Reynolds dedicated the classic song to their bassist, Ben McKee, and shared a story of how they had his back when he had a run in with the law.
The last third of the set proved to be the most exciting. Featuring fan favourite songs and glitz and glamour even Elton John would be proud of. Highlights like “Demons” and “On Top of the World” had the crowd on their feet, hands in the air and singing along. During “Underdog,” which sounds like it came straight off a Passion Pit album, with its pulse-pounding, synth-driven melodies, the teenybopper-packed crowd was bombarded with giant balloons filled with confetti. The “everywhere I go, I hear this song” smash hit “Radioactive” was saved for an epic ten-minute closer. Reynolds delivered a dramatic performance, being lifted high above the stage and beating yet another drum suspended from the rafters.
Just as you thought there was nothing left to play, Imagine Dragons returned for an encore with “Nothing Left to Say”. It was another ten-minute rendition and appropriately the final song on Night Visions. Reynolds again propelled into the sky, this time doing backflips in the air while his bandmates jammed on stage.
Monday night’s performance was an impressive and unexpected outing from a group of eager musicians. For a band with only one album, Imagine Dragons have quickly reaped an incredible amount of success, and it will be interesting to see how it will affect their creative process and upcoming albums. Will their current dance with fame project them to become stadium fillers or will it curse them as their “15 minutes?”
Opening the evening was California youngsters, The Neighbourhood. Currently touring for their debut album, I Love You, and sharing their particular style of alternative, almost R&B-like, style music, they had the female demographic riled up early especially when 21-year-old front man, Jesse Rutherford, first showed his face. The band, all dressed in black, sailed through their 45-minute set like they’ve been doing it for years. Having recently received some exceptional radio success with their hit, “Sweater Weather,” they were warmly welcomed by their Toronto fans in Toronto, and an accurate description of the temperature on the chilly evening by the lake.