JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

September 26, 2013
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion - The Woodlands
The Woodlands, TX USA
Review by Lisa Sullivan
Photos by Michael Victorick

Imagine Dragons - Imagine Dragons, The Neighbourhood, Paper Route

An Imaginary Dragon Invasion At The Woodlands Pavilion

"Cool, awesome, exciting, loud! Cool background!" From the mouth of my seven year old, who has attended many concerts at my side, these words pretty much sum up Imagine Dragon's performance at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion last Thursday evening. Apparently these sentiments were shared by just about everyone in the near capacity crowd as they sang and swayed with the tunes that were flawlessly performed by amazingly talented musicians.

Before I go any further I need to get a couple things off my chest. The promoters need to do a better job profiling their audience, in this instance overflowing with pre-teens and even younger kids. Putting three bands on the bill was overkill and ultimately detracted from the main event as people with children started leaving around 10:30, missing much of Imagine Dragons' set. Secondly, The Neighborhood did not belong on the bill. Simply they weren't a good fit. Emo, false angst and mediocre musicianship, littered with profanities - I'm not a prude, I grew up in the punk era, but repeatedly dropping the F bomb in your songs just for shock value demonstrates lack of creativity - contradicts everything that Imagine Dragons represents. Paper Route gave it their all to a mostly empty arena at 7:30. They should have started at 8:00 and been the only opener.

All that aside, the main event was worth waiting for. Imagine Dragons' stage performance was planned down to the last detail as evidenced by the exquisite backdrop they played against. The visually stunning backdrop, featuring wind whipped trees set against a full moon/setting sun, set the tone as the band took charge of the stage and the audience with incredible energy and raw talent. Imagine Dragons' music is poetic and powerful. Listening to the CD one is quickly swept up by the powerful emotions brought to life by the music. That emotion was amplified in the live performance. From the opening notes of Round and Round to the closing number, the audience was enraptured, singing along with the band and on their feet throughout the set.

The band, Dan Reynolds on vocals, Wayne Sermon on guitar, Ben McKee on bass, and Daniel Platzman on drums and viola, is way bigger in unison than each of the four members. They displayed crazy energy, versatility in their musicianship, and a sense of awe and respect for their audience that was quite refreshing. It seemed many times during the evening that they are still amazed to be playing before such large crowds. They better get used to it. This is not a one hit band. We will be hearing from them for years to come.

Highlights included "It's Time", a crowd favorite - set off by powerful drums and stomps and melodious guitar and keyboard - that turned into one of the biggest sing-alongs of the night. Everyone chanting, "Now don't you understand, I'm never changing who I am" in unison pretty much sums up the appeal of the band. Lyrics are intelligent, thoughtful and inspirational, melodies are intricate and catchy and the band is genuinely likeable. Standing among the crowd as we were getting ready to leave - kids were wiped out at this point - there was a sense of camaraderie that is rare in music these days. Everyone and everything felt right, if only for a brief moment in time. In this day and age, that temporary escape from the realities of this world is welcomed and deeply appreciated.

The best part of the show being at Cynthia Woods Pavilion was that it was outdoors. As we walked to our car, we got to soak up the last notes of Demons and Radioactive; the former resonating deeply with me and evoking a small tear, and the latter giving my son and his friend one last joyful memory of a night that was just about perfect. Imagine Dragons has the formula down right: brilliant musicianship delivered with equal doses of high energy and modesty. Next time they play we will be back, along with thousands of other fans who were at the show Thursday, and many more who will find their way to this incredible band in the days to come.