REVIEW: Imagine Dragons and Sunset Sons, SSE ARENA, Belfast.
After releasing their 2012 critically acclaimed album ‘Night Visions’ which included their Grammy award winning song ‘Radioactive’ Imagine Dragons have had a phenomenal few years.
Spending almost two years touring relentlessly and playing over 300 dates worldwide the band devoted a lot time writing material for their newest album on the road. 2015 saw the debut of the bands second album ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ to praise and have been touring with the album ever since. There is a great sense of excitement even outside of the SSE Arena for the band’s highly anticipated performance.
Opening the night is the super slick Sunset Sons with their style of sun soaked pop rock sound. There is a very positive and upbeat vibe from the band and I am immediately struck by the likeness of lead singer Rory Williams to Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon. For a relatively unknown band to the audience there is a great reaction with many dancing along to their songs such as ‘Blondie’ and ‘She Wants’ which are extremely melodic and catchy.
Opportunely brought together through their mutual love for surfing, snowboarding and songs the quartet formed a touring cover band whilst roaming the Alps. After deciding to have a go at writing their own songs they found themselves in amongst a fluster of record label interest and eagerness. Signing to Polydor Records, the band has been working unremittingly over the last few years and was included in BBC’s Sound of 2015.
Engaging well with the crowd the singer manages to build a good rapport which can be seen through there reaction. Lots of different influences can be heard throughout their songs with the use of keys helping to distinguish the band to sound slightly different to some groups of a similar style. Their catchy lyrics and great harmonies have ensured the creation of good decent pop songs. Their newest song ‘On the Road’ provides the highlight of their set with its funky vibes and emphasis on the keys.
Finally, emerging to a more than euphoric reaction Imagine Dragons appear onto the stage exuding confidence and strong self-assurance. With screens at either side of the stage projecting images of the band to the audience and streams of light emitting out the front the stage is set stunningly. Lead singer Dan Reynolds instead of coming towards the mic heads for a huge base drum situated beside the main drum kit building into a cacophony of noise.
Opening their set ‘Shots’ the lead singer makes his way to the front of the stage where he leans into the crowd with a cheeky smile causing the audience to go wild. It is impressive to see such a huge age range which really highlights the impact the band have made musically attracting a wide variety of fans. Their next song ‘Trouble’ has the crowd jumping along to every word demonstrates a very upbeat sound similar to Mumford and Sons.
Lamenting the crowd singer Reynolds gives a genuine and earnest speech about recent global events and thanks the crowd for still coming to support music and peace. Following, the band begins into their song ‘It’s Time’ which proves extremely poignant with the crowd echoing every word back and makes for a very heartfelt performance.
Bringing the mood back up the band throws themselves into ‘Roots’ which is certainly a lot more upbeat and pop orientated and even includes a somewhat heavy guitar solo. What is extremely apparent from their whole performance is singer Reynold’s excellent presence on stage really knowing how to use the stage and space to help connect with the audience which they noticeably appreciate.
The band’s songs seamlessly blend together so perfectly that there is not one interruption or break to their entire set. It is quite clear why the band have reached they have and in such a short space of time as they radiate the makings of a huge stadium band. Guitar player Wayne Sermon has his moment in the spotlight stepping forward to play a fusion of the White Stripes and Led Zeppelin. Although I can imagine that many of the audience members had never heard those songs before they still seemed enthusiastic. Moving swiftly into ‘I’m So Sorry’ this then grows into a brilliant anthemic rock song and emanates an amazing atmosphere throughout the arena with Reynolds even climbing up onto the drum kit to help.
Lastly, the songs everyone has been waiting for ‘On Top of the World’ and ‘Radioactive’ causes mass hysteria throughout the arena. Members of the audience light up there phones to provide a picturesque scene in the SSE. ‘On Top of the World’ has the audience dancing and jumping along to every beat and it’s clear to see why the song is popular. With the extremely epic intro and dramatic build up ‘Radioactive’ is truly a spectacle live and the perfect ending to an incredible performance. Aine Cronin-McCartney, GiggingNI.com