A LocalBozo.com Concert Review
Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
June 29, 2015
Concert Review: Imagine Dragons at Prudential Center
“We don’t have high expectations for tonight,” proclaimed Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds, continuing with “We only hope that it’s the best night of your entire life.” A quick journey across the pond on Monday evening brought us to Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center- or as its more affectionately referred to “The Rock,” an appropriate moniker given the ninety minute performance taking center stage inside. The Las Vegas, Nevada four piece outfit dazzled in their first stop in the Metropolitan area in 2015 (the tour continues at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Tuesday night) with a blistering seventeen song set encapsulating the brightest spots from the band’s two album releases, with a handful of fun cover songs thrown in to the mix. While some outfits are prematurely rushed into arena tours before they’re actually ready, Imagine Dragons has collectively honed a cohesive stage show that shows a far more veteran presence than their years making music might otherwise indicate.
Backed by a captivating light show and an elaborate stage setup, an arena of screams welcomed the arrival of Imagine Dragons as a massive white curtain fell to the floor. Launching into opening track “Shots,” Reynolds wasted little time in strolling out onto the elevated stage extension, bringing him closer to the swarms of fans packed into the standing room area with their phones stretched out to snap a shot of the singer up close. Reynolds would spend much of the evening there in the spotlight as a sea of colorful lights rained down upon his remaining bandmates on stage.
The band’s singles like “It’s Time,” “Demons” and an electrifying version of “I Bet My Life” each played out even better than anticipated given the raucous crowd in the arena setting, but it was the surprising moments that made this performance even more eventful. Noticing a young girl in the crowd with a sign indicating that she’d traveled 500 miles to meet a friend at the evening’s show, Reynolds undoubtedly made the lucky fan’s night by leading the band through a spontaneous cover of The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).” The crowd unsurprisingly went bonkers as a result. Moreover, a slow-building cover of Alphaville’s “Forever Young” showcased Reynolds versatile vocal range before “Smoke and Mirrors” was capped off by Daniel Wayne Sermon‘s shredding guitar solo as some of the show’s earliest highlights.
Emphatically swinging his arms to physically enunciate every pronounced drumbeat choreographed with a flash of lights, Dan Reynolds as the band’s frontman is undeniably their energetic catalyst. With a spring in his step and an ear to ear grin, it’s hard not to have as much fun singing tracks like the big arena rock epic “Hopeless Opus” as the singer is himself. During a particularly lively rendition of the fun “On Top of the World,” Reynolds journeyed from the stage up into a nearby 100′s section corridor to sing alongside his many awestruck fans. Taking additional time to pose with a nearby youngster in a wheelchair, he returned to the stage for a heavy version of “Friction,” which again allowed Sermon to shine.
Saving the wildly successful “Radioactive” for the end of the show was a no-brainer, allowing the arena audience to capably supplement Reynolds’ vocals. As he did for much of the show, the singer alternated between leading the crowd through the song’s catchy verse and pummeling the sizable drum-kit now set up at his feet. There was nary a silenced voice in the house amid a smattering of red laser lights flashing up toward the building’s cheap seats. And from our vantage point it was clear that nobody in the house was sitting down and nobody was standing in place as Imagine Dragons welcomed us ‘to the new age.’
- Dave Gendelson