On the 5th November 2015, Imagine Dragons played the O2 arena (for a second sold out night) and were supported by British/Aussie band “Sunset Sons”. It was a show from the British leg of the “Smoke + Mirrors” tour. They played a mixture of songs from their latest album “Smoke + Mirrors” as well as hits from their first album “Night Visions”.
I’ve seen Imagine Dragons once before, at Reading Festival in 2014, and I thought they were absolutely incredible. Everything from the vocals to their instrument playing and stage presence was totally encapsulating and engaging- This was the main reason for wanting to see them again. My mum’s a huge fan and wanted to see them too so I went with her to the concert at the O2 arena. I’m usually quite skeptical about large arenas and wasn’t sure what to expect from a band who I’d previously associated with large outdoors stages with the sun beaming down and crowds full of booze filled teens.
Sunset Sons were amazing. I’ve seen them a few times and they keep getting better and better- They’re definitely ones to watch (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again). Their sun laced indie rock tunes warmed up the crowd well- despite everyone around me sitting on their phones for the whole entirety of the act.
Imagine Dragons opened with “Shots” from their latest album. The audience weren’t very enthusiastic about this, bar a few. However, Dan Reynold’s (lead singer) impeccable vocals cannot be criticised. If you’re into bands who sound exactly like they do on their records in concerts then they’re for you. They played, along with “Shots”, many songs from “Smoke + Mirrors” including “I’m So Sorry”, “Polaroid” and “I Bet My Life”. The audience were mostly unfamiliar with these songs though which I thought was quite disappointing.
They also played songs from 2012’s “Night Visions”. The reception of these songs were overall more positive as the audience seemed to know these a bit better than the newer material. They played songs like “It’s Time”, “Demons” and, of course, “Radioactive”. They also played “On Top Of The World” whereby Reynolds jumped from the stage and walked down the front and sides of the crowd before climbing up the stairs and into the seated crowd. I thought this was incredible and fascinating to watch (although I presume it’s security’s worst nightmare). He managed to sing the whole way through doing this and then jump back onto the stage after.
Intertwined within the band’s set there were incredible instrumentals from drummer, Daniel Platzman, and guitarist, Daniel Wayne Sermon. Their skilled instrument playing was mesmerising to watch and listen to and I enjoyed this bit a lot.
The band closed the main set with “Radioactive”, an obvious choice due to it’s radio success. They played the song with an array of drums which made it spectacular to watch and also visually exciting. I enjoyed this part the most. I love how drum sticks were flying everywhere and the sheer amount of percussion which went into the song, making it unique (something you can’t quite appreciate on the CD or radio). However, many people left after this.
They played a one song encore of “The Fall”. Admittedly I was unfamiliar with the song, but the band played to falling confetti, aptly autumnal colours and shaped like leaves (hence “The Fall”), and roars of audience applause from those who had not yet left.
However (and this spoiled an otherwise amazing evening for me) the audience were dire. I don’t usually have a problem with audiences, and I tend to think each to their own especially where music is involved, but this one was exceptionally awful to the point where I felt embarrassed for the band (although I doubt they could actually see) and it seemed awkward. The audience were composed of mainly families and people of all ages- Brilliant, I initially thought (I love the idea of everyone enjoying music collectively no matter of age). I was mostly confused by people with binoculars though (I’ve not seen this at a “pop/rock” concert before) and those who stared at their phones the entire way through. I was the only person (sadly and very, very literally) standing in the seated area for at least the first three songs and when the hits, like Demons, were played, that everyone knew, many would stand up and proceed to watch it through their phone screens whilst recording it- I’m all for the odd photo here and there but it got to the point where this was actually quite sad- and then after the song everyone proceeded to sit down again (those behind us actually moved). Even the standing audience looked mostly lifeless with the exception of the first few rows dancing and a group of (failing) moshers. The worst part being that everyone upped and left after Radioactive and those who stood up when Reynolds got into the crowd on the off chance he’d come over. I felt the reception was so cold from a band who radiated nothing by warmth through their songs and presence.
I’ve never noticed the tragic demise of music culture in this way before. Maybe it’s my lack of understanding of “pop” concert etiquette or maybe it’s the modern music revolution. To me it was the the epitome of pop culture- iPhones, iPads and observation of live music without becoming too involved. In saying this, merch seemed to fly off the counter- as though it was a prize for being there whilst everyone updates their Facebook status’ with pictures of the concert. It exemplified what “radio bands” are and how many seem to feed off of the few songs they’ve actually heard without delving deeper into an artists work.
I was obviously at the wrong concert. It left me feeling confused and let down by concert goers. However, the band themselves were, again (and I can’t stress enough), fantastic and extremely exciting in what they do- and I got an amazing view being the only one stood up looking over everyone’s heads.