We have been big fans of Imagine Dragons ever since the first time we saw them perform live at the inaugural Firefly Music Festival in 2012 (where, as an up-and-coming artist, they didn’t even play the Main Stage). Fast forward a few years and the global superstars were back in our area, headlining a blockbuster show on their Evolve Tour at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday, November 2.
The show opened with California artist, ‘K. Flay’, and her band, who had fans dancing from the get-go as they sang along to catchy tunes like ‘Blood in the Gut’ and ‘High Enough’. K. Flay set the stage perfectly for the second act of the night, another band we first became fans of at one of the earliest Firefly Festivals: ‘Grouplove’.
Grouplove has an undeniable chemistry on stage, cemented by co-lead singers (and real-life married couple) Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi. Grouplove opened with ‘Welcome to Your Life’ and between the fast-paced wardrobe changes, hair flipping, and dancing, Hooper and Zucconi quickly racked up the stage miles. Grouplove had the Wells Fargo Center crowd completely enraptured with stellar performances of hits like ‘Ways To Go’ and ‘Tongue Tied’, before breaking into covers of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ and ‘Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys. The band ended on another one of their biggest hits, ‘Colours’, to the delight of their fans.
At long last, it was time for the headliners to take the stage and Imagine Dragons did not disappoint! Frontman Dan Reynolds used the catwalk stage to literally reach out to the audience. He connected with them early on and never let go. Reynolds hails from Las Vegas, and after the recent mass-casualty event there, he took time to recognize all the division in the world today, as well as the hate and violence related to it. Reynolds strongly denounced succumbing to the fear of “terrorists” and told the fans that Imagine Dragons take safety concerns seriously and were doing everything they could to make the event safe and enjoyable for all. He passionately asked everyone to come together and to not be so divisive.
Imagine Dragons then plunged into a 20 song performance that spanned two stages, opening the show with ‘I Don’t Know Why’ and ‘It’s Time’. The main part of their performance included hits like ‘Demons’ and ‘Rise Up’ before concluding with ‘On Top of The World’. Throughout the set, Reynolds continued to bare his heart to the crowd between songs, sharing personal stories about the history of the band, and his struggles with depression, as well as the origin of each song. These moments gave the whole show a raw and personal feeling that would be impossible to fake.
Imagine Dragons then moved to the B-Stage for a quick three-song acoustic set: a cover of Tom Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’, followed by ‘Bleeding Out’ and ‘Amsterdam’. The B-Stage set-up featured string instruments, including an upright, standing bass. The musical skillset of each band member was on full display on the B-stage, an aspect that is sometimes lost while the instruments are fully plugged in.
The band then returned to the Main Stage for five more songs: ‘Thunder’ (w/ K. Flay), ‘I Bet My Life’, ‘Believer’, ‘Walking the Wire’, and perhaps their biggest hit to date, ‘Radioactive’. The song was gangbusters from start to finish. All three acts gave something different to the crowd and in the end, they all drew us in, making us feel like we had just seen them perform in a much smaller, more intimate venue. Our hats are off to K. Flay, Grouplove, and Imagine Dragons.
[Photos by Rick Pettine]
[Article by David Miller and Rick Pettine]
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