Arts concert review

“Radioactive” rockstars return to Boston

Imagine Dragons rounds out North American headline tour near the harbor

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Imagine Dragons, an American rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada played in Boston last month.
Nick Walker

Imagine Dragons

Bank of America Pavilion, Boston

July 24, 2013

To my left, the stormy horizon was just visible from underneath the sweeping white canopy of the Bank of America Pavilion. The sun had just sunk out of sight, its last glow illuminating the clouds with dark red and orange colors. Before me, the stage lights followed suit, letting the stage sink into darkness. A cool breeze drifted in. Behind me, the voices of five thousand people faded to an expectant murmur…

And then erupted into a roar as Imagine Dragons took the stage. The roar of the crowd was matched only by the thunder of the music as the band took to their instruments, falling straight into their first number. The stage lit up, spotlights cutting swathes of light through boiling clouds of fog, and the pavilion shuddered with the beat of the drums. It was a familiar song, and the audience needed little encouragement to join in. There is nothing quite like the sound of five thousand people singing in harmony — in your ears you find that even your own voice is indistinguishable from the voices of those around you.

Playing through the songs of their most recent alternative rock album, Night Visions, the band took full advantage of the concert setting. They did not just play their music, but instead created a momentous theatrical experience. The stage was backlit by a massive screen, and visuals kept time with and complemented the mood of each song, often displaying clips from that song’s music video. The stage was strewn with extra drums, which Dan Reynolds, the lead vocalist, took full advantage of. Wayne Sermon (the guitarist), Dan Platzman (the drummer), and Ben McKee (the bassist) joined in the vocals with the audience, and the stage positively vibrated with energy. The band played with enthusiasm and joy. It was obvious that they didn’t just love playing for the audience, but that they also loved playing with the audience.

Imagine Dragons continued to play for more than two and half hours with barely a break, and the audience joined in on every song. The concert reached a climax with “Radioactive,” the song everyone was waiting for. Impossibly, the audience and the band grew even louder, a crescendo of massive drumbeats, guitar chords, and vocals rumbling over the audience. Halfway through the song, the vocalist, having beaten the heck out of all the drums on the stage, was hoisted by wire to a concealed drum mounted to the ceiling, and the music thundered forth.

The opening bands were X Ambassadors, who had personality and energy, but were otherwise a bit generic, and The Neighborhood, which played four fairly indistinguishable and lifeless numbers. However, these bands did not detract from the thrill of the key attraction. Imagine Dragons’ music was written with a concert setting in mind, so you haven’t really heard their music until you’ve heard it live. And if you do go to see them perform, I would recommend listening to their whole album before going. At the concert, there were a couple of songs I didn’t know, and while it was still awesome to see and hear them performed, it was always more fun to recognize and sing the chorus with everyone during the songs which I did know.

I would also recommend the Bank of America Pavilion, where this concert was held, if you’re looking for other concerts this summer. It is on the waterfront, and in the summer heat a cool breeze blows off the water and through the whole pavilion. Plus it’s easy to get there by bus via the Silver Line.

Imagine Dragons is still a fairly new band, which formed in 2008 and become an international success in 2011. I’m looking forward to hearing fresh and new music from them in the next few years, and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for tickets to their next performance in Boston.