this is radioactive!


Imagine Dragons @ Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney NSW Australia 19/05/2018 written by Brendan Lewis.

Legend is, there are four elemental pieces, that when joined, form a mystical being, differing in proportional form and energy. Legend is, that every few years, these elemental forces will unite, evolve, rise up and bring with them a new musical offering of radioactive thunder, more precious than gold.

It’s time, for the reign of Imagine Dragons ‘Evolve World Tour’ has begun…

As the enigmatic being awakens, documentary-sounding graphics on the screen atop the stage and some eerie bass, light drums and worldly synth build the suspense, as fans await the first song. The first three evolutionary forms of this being are opening track off ‘Evolve’, ‘I Don’t Know Why’, ‘Believer’ and ‘It’s Time’. All three songs start off reserved, calm withdrawn, until the songs’ energy can’t be contained any longer, like a Pokemon in it’s base form slowly reaching up to the right level, to finally break free and evolve to a new form…..I’m a 90’s kid. This is amplified dramatically, with a blast of confetti after an extended pause in ‘I Don’t Know Why’, separating the stripped back intro/first verse, and the full-force chorus. In ‘Believer’, the start is even more eerie, with the songs’ minor-key tone and now being stripped of all sounds except vocals and acoustic guitar, until the end of the first chorus, which then the song starts over in original form. The first explosive chorus is brought forth with a fiery blast of smoke shooting up from the stage in towers. For both the first two songs, once the energy hits, lead singer Dan races around the stage, energized from the flurry of energy around him, as he makes use of the stage and catwalk runway protruding from the middle. ‘It’s Time’ also starts withdrawn before raising the energy suddenly, with this song though, Dan plays on the crowds’ desire to sing along to every word, so the arena is filled with a chorus of uncontradicted choir-like vocals building up to the iconic piano riff in the songs’ intro, which in this case, is launched after the first chorus sing along.

The mix of sound tonight is quite confronting for me, yet effective to Imagine Dragons’s set, although it was unfortunately quite detrimental to The Temper Trap’s set beforehand. The sound level isn’t as loud as I were to expect, this does help emphasize the energy build up intended by the band, as each song naturally rises in energy level. However, for ‘It’s Time’, the songs’ energy did seem a little shy of sufficient until the last chorus when the band perform more dramatically.

The musical form transitions back to an embryonic state, as lead singer dedicates the next song to a school in the USA and proceeds with a heartwarming introductory talk before flowing perfectly into an acoustic cover of ‘Forever Young’, transforming this huge arena into an intimate room.

That embryo now bursts free of containment, as an eerie synth melody brings forth an energetic and dramatic display of drum and guitar collaborations from the band, with a flurry of psychedelic lighting reigning down around them, before ‘Gold’ takes shape. The energy both musically and energetically is thrust up high, emphasised dramatically by the calming absence of intensity in ‘Forever Young’ previously. This musical being seems to have reached it’s final form of greatness, or has it?

The rest of this show is like Goku from Dragon Ball Z in its’ energy, reaching “super-saiyan” heights in parts like in the uplifting feel-good track ‘On Top Of The World’ which features an array of giant balloons for the crowd to paddle around like purring kitties, ‘Make It Up To You’ with it’s dance-provoking sound and infectious melodic hooks, withdrawing back to “saiyan” status for songs like ‘Demons’, which lead singer Dan tells us about his experiences with depression and therapy, and how important it is to seek help at times, bringing the vibe to inspirational sobering heights, and exceeding those power-levels even more, reaching “super-saiyan 2,3 and 4”, in songs along the way littered with incredible drum solos, edgy show-off guitar riffs, climactic vocals and amplified by SO much confetti and smoke shooting up from the stage, as all the band run around the stage wildly as if set alight by the burning energy!

The sound tonight has been differing in quality I feel, it has perfectly justified the climactic sound of some songs, but in others, hasn’t been loud enough in some sound attributes (example, an iconic synthesizer hook, or bass line that needs to stand out), and as a result, lets the hype deflate at times, regardless of the perfectly executed performance from the band. To be fair, Imagine Dragons’ constantly evolving music features so many challenging and diverse sounds and layers, I can imagine it would be rather challenging for any sound mixer to harness a perfect all-round mix to complement every song adequately.

However, the confusing sound mix is brought to its’ full potential in ‘Radioactive’, which the energy in the arena is! The song started with an anticipation-building intro, that leads to the songs’ signature psychedelic layers and booming drums with roaring vocals. In the songs’ bridge, the energy explodes or rather, transforms like Optimus Prime after being equipped with upgrades and new weapons, as all the band members on stage take to a drum for a massive attention demanding all-out drum solo! And of course, this song brings with it MORE BLOODY CONFETTI! Seriously, guys I’m starting to look like a freakin’ paper mache! Still, after the band blast out everything they’ve got like Goku’s ‘Solar Bomb’, the show begs nor needs no encore, as THIS, is the mystical beings final form of greatness!

The sound tonight was yes, confusing, and at times confronting. However, the bands’ incredible display of comradery, energy and high musical calibre from start to finish of this perfectly-flowing set full of life, well and truly makes up for the occasionally lacking sound mix, and truly left the entire crowd feeling on top of the world and radioactive with excitement!