Saturday 21 September 2019

Imagine Dragons, 3Arena, Dublin review: They fail to set the night alight

Rock: Imagine Dragons, 3Arena, Dublin

Musicians (L-R) Ben McKee, Dan Reynolds, Dan Platzman, and Wayne Sermon of Imagine Dragons
Musicians (L-R) Ben McKee, Dan Reynolds, Dan Platzman, and Wayne Sermon of Imagine Dragons

Ed Power

There's an obvious temptation to scoff at Imagine Dragons, whose ungainly blending of heavy rock, euphoric dance music and choking-back-the-tears sincerity has somehow yielded two number one albums and enough fans to effortlessly fill 3Arena on a windy Wednesday.

The earnestness mostly flows from singer Dan Reynolds. A Conor McGregor lookalike with a man-bun and twitchy body language, he was on the brink of tears just three songs in, as he delivered a heartfelt tribute to the victims of terror in Paris and Beirut.

He later crooned his way through a cover of Alphaville's 'Forever Young' while fans waved camera-phones, candle-in-the-wind style, in the air. In 2015, not even U2 or Coldplay would dare wear their hearts on their sleeves in such a fashion. Recently diagnosed with a chronic auto-immune condition, Reynolds was perhaps trying to squeeze as much meaning as possible from every moment on stage.

The bleating extended to the Las Vegas quartet's music which started big and grew steadily more super-sized through the evening, as stomping riffs gave way to Godzilla-scale choruses and Reynolds stalked a ramp extending into the crowd, wailing like a preacher possessed by the arena rock gods.

But though their message of universal brotherhood was of course timely and uplifting, the band's repertoire was harder to warm to. Endlessly histrionic, Imagine Dragons proved tone deaf to nuance as they chased arena-pop Nirvana on the overblown 'I Was Me' and 'I'm So Sorry'.

Every guitar part reached to the stratosphere, each of Reynolds' choruses shot for the moon. Even their power ballads culminated in wig-outs that crashed over the audience in a deluge of portentousness.

There were, it is true, occasional glimmers amid the gloom. Early single 'Radioactive' plausibly married Kasabian and Avicii; 'Demons' bustled with an agreeable swagger. Otherwise, the bombast was overwhelming and, in the end, exhausting.

Irish Independent

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