Glasgow SSE Hydro
Sunday 15 November 2015
Imagine Dragons is a band I’ve wanted to see for a long time. Since the release of their debut album Night Visions in 2012, their popularity has skyrocketed. From playing to a humble 150 people in Glasgow’s Nice ‘n’ Sleazy three years ago, the SSE Hydro is now packed with no fewer than 12,000 fans awaiting them.
Tonight, the stage is cascaded with enormous mirrors in celebration of their latest offering, Smoke + Mirrors, released at the start of 2015. The lights dim and the mirrors glisten, as the opening of “Shots” begins. Frontman Dan Reynolds emulates the band’s ethereal style as he dances about the stage in a tasselled cardigan, man bun proudly atop his head.
He takes a moment after the first couple of songs to stop and talk about the atrocities in Paris a couple of days previously. Reynolds thanks each and every one of us for showing courage and coming to the show tonight, demonstrating the power of solidarity in the face of fear. It’s a harrowing thought that those who lost their lives in the Bataclan Theatre were there for the same reason we are tonight. The crowd applauds Reynold’s speech, taking a moment of remembrance, before he starts an emotional rendition of “It’s Time” a cappella.
The song evokes the biggest sing-along of the night so far, arms launching into the air when the chorus kicks in. The feel good energy and optimism of one of their greatest hits unites the crowd after such a touching speech. A haunting cover of “Forever Young” follows; originally an 80s hit by Alphaville but more familiar to this audience by Jay Z and Mr Hudson. The band bring the set back to the present day with one of their most recent singles, “Roots”, which divides the older fans from the new.
One of the show’s highlights comes half way through the night, with a goofy cover of The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, Reynolds explains that it’s become a tradition to sing the anthem every time they perform in Scotland. The crowd predictably erupts, jumping and singing along, few left without a smile on their face.
The night offers more treats from Smoke + Mirrors, such as the mighty “I’m So Sorry” – now known to many through the Orange is the New Black season three trailer. Reynolds goes on to loop the start of “Gold” as the stage and screens turn a yellow hue. But, fans of Night Visions are not left disappointed. A skillful medley of tracks including “Amsterdam”, “Tiptoe” and “Bleeding Out” are seamlessly integrated with newer tracks “Second Chances” and “Warriors”.
The set would not be complete without “Demons”, which has become a staple among Imagine Dragons fans. Members of the crowd wrap their arms around each other, as they sway and sing every word. But, there is only one song everyone is waiting for. The drums appear onstage and it’s time for “Radioactive”, the song that started it all. The excitement pulsates through the audience from the first beat and carries along the first verse, the crowd even joining in with the iconic breath Reynolds takes. When the chorus drops, they jump in unison, arms raised and voices loud. The band break for the seminal drum solo, lights flashing dramatically in time to the beat, before the final blinding chorus.
But, Imagine Dragons aren’t finished with Glasgow yet. They end the night with “The Fall”, an epic song that epitomises their unmistakable sound. As confetti in the form of leaves scatter across the crowd, we are transported to tranquillity. From their modest first gig in Glasgow, tonight Imagine Dragons have proven that they have the right to stand on an arena stage.