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Concert Reviews:
Imagine Dragons heart Detroit in a big way at Fillmore concert

For Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Saturday, March 2, 2013

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DETROIT -- Hailing from the entertainment mecca of Las Vegas, Imagine Dragons knows that it's never a bad idea to suck up to the crowd -- even when it doesn't have to.

So the quintet, riding the success of its gold-certified debut album "Night Visions" and the chart-topping hits "It's Time" and "Radioactive," exuded plenty of Motor City love during its concert Saturday night, March 1, at the Fillmore Detroit. And on a day Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared the city in a state of financial emergency, the sold-out (and largely suburban) crowd greeted those sentiments like a balm for its wounded civic pride.

Early on in the 14-song, 85-minute show, frontman Dan Reynolds told fans that, "I Love this city. It represents to me empowerment and rising from the dust...Every time I come here, the people I meet seem very real, very down to earth." There were similar comments later in the night, although to the group's credit it avoided any cliched "Detroit Rock City" references, and for the encore Reynolds and his four bandmates came out sporting Detroit Pistons game jerseys -- not because they were big basketball fans, Reynolds said, but because "I want to take anything home that represents this place."

Truth be told, of course, Imagine Dragons would have gotten over just fine simply on the merits of its material. From the abundance of singalongs on Friday, it was clear that the group has made a connection that runs deeper than just its hits, with a genuine embrace for and familiarity with even the deeper album tracks and rare material the group peppered throughout its show.

Following an uneven opening half-hour by Nico Vega and a hot set by Australia's Atlas Genius that gave the headliners a run for their money, Imagine Dragons even started out with some of that less familiar fare, opening with "Round & Round" and "Amsterdam," both from early career EPs and bonus editions of "Night Visions." Playing in front of a set of tree-shaped light rigs and semi-circular screens that housed occasional projects, the group deftly executed its songs' tight dynamics, accenting most of the songs with fresh, atmospheric openings and segues, while, when in doubt, the mulleted Reynolds -- whose infant daughter was watching from the side of the stage -- picked up sticks or mallets to hit any one of a number of drums positioned around the stage, including a large Taiko instrument that dominated the set.

Though its repertoire is still limited at this early stage of is career, Imagine Dragons kept things admirably broad, swinging from the anthemic choruses of "Tiptoe" and "Hear Me" to the thicker textures of Cha-Ching (Till We Grow Older)" and the African Highlife flavors of "Rocks." The whole group pounded through an extended drum segment during "Radioactive," while the quiet "30 Lives," performed by Reynolds and guitarist Wayne Sermon, was a welcome respite to the fury of the rest of the show.

And while the inherent earnestness of Reynolds' lyrics cast a sober tone to show, Imagine Dragons ended in party mode, tossing day-glo balls into the crowd for the buoyant "Underdog" and keeping everyone dancing, and crowd surfing, during "On Top of the World," while Reynolds jumped into the front-stage barricade to press the flesh during "It's Time."

One of the night's biggest cheers, meanwhile, came when the frontman promised that "We'll be back very soon" -- and most likely to a larger venue. For the Fillmore fans, that time can't come soon enough.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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