At Rogers Arena on October 8
It was a no frills show for the most part when Imagine Dragons brought its Evolve tour to Rogers Arena on Sunday (October 8). There was little in the way of fat, except for the maybe excessive 11 illuminated pyramids decorating the stage (three will always get the job done, tops) and those bloated, singalong choruses the Las Vegas five-piece is so good at, starting with opener, “I Don’t Know Why”.
Before that, a short video preamble gave us a sort of potted version of the Dawn of Man, complete with volcanos, flying strands of DNA, and levitating humanoids silhouetted against a blazing sun, but even that was hardly Terrence Malick. No, this two hour show was all about the rock, such as it is, with the five plainly dressed men of Imagine Dragons working very hard to entertain you, Vancouver.
Singer Dan Reynolds front-loaded the set with a nice speech about the meaningless of politics, colour, class, and sex—any homeless black lesbians in the audience might have argued the point, but still—and thumped his chest through properly sweaty and so-sincere-I’m-going-to-poop versions of “It’s Time”, “Gold”, and “Whatever it Takes”.
If it all came across as a string of over-amped anthems on the wishy-washy theme of empowerment, well—how else in 2017 are you meant to fill stadiums with mostly teens and the five or six full-grown men I spotted strutting through a sea of 13-year-old heads with Evolve proudly emblazoned on their chests?
If there’s a weird position that exists somewhere between heartfelt and manipulative, then it was already convincingly occupied by Imagine Dragons by the time Reynolds was marching through the crowd and way up into the stands to high five the shit out of basically everyone.
I mean: he really seems like a very nice boy.
And whenever you found yourself thinking, “What is this Mumford and Sons bullshit, anyway?” the band would throw a nice curveball like the Miami Vice lounge groover “Start Over” or the bizarre Bowie-meets-12 bar monstrosity of “Yesterday” (that’s praise, by the way.)
A faithful mini-stage run through Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” provided a nice palate cleanser before “Thunder” and “Radioactive” ended matters on an appropriately H-bomb-sized note, followed by a still more enormous “Believer” for the encore.
With special mention going to drummer Dan Platzman, even these outsized takes on already overproduced pop-rock mind viruses sounded like they were coming from a real life band. For that alone, we give thanks.