Live Review: Imagine Dragons – Bridgestone Arena, Nashville 10/07/2018
Imagine Dragons have been successfully selling out arenas for years now- their popularity remaining steady worldwide. In fact, they played Bridgestone Arena almost two years ago to the date. Though this was my eighth time seeing them, attending predominantly as a writer rather than a fan was a far different—but no less exciting-- experience.
As the arena exponentially filled with fans, it was evident that a wide appreciation for music was the main force in drawing so many people together in a 20,000 capacity room. The arena encapsulated a far different energy than the one it had in July of 2015 on their Smoke + Mirrors tour. This was apparent far before the band took the stage.
As the lights went down there was an immediate rise in energy taking form in screams and rising heart rates. This could be felt from the front row all the way to the ceiling. A riser behind the stage came up slowly, holding all four members of the band. To my surprise, they opened with their number one hit, Radioactive, the song that they have closed out every show with since 2012. From the moment of the intro, the word “alive” came to mind. The crowd seemed to mirror the same level of energy that Imagine Dragons carried with them on stage, and that is a beautiful thing to witness. I have been to many shows where the artist simply comes on, sings their songs, and leaves. Imagine Dragons are on the farthest end of the spectrum.
What many fans did not know until recently is that front-man Dan Reynolds has been battling an auto immune disease for a decade that inflamed all his joints. He announced on his personal Instagram recently (@DanReynolds) that he is in full remission. Knowing that he has been battling that while still being filled with such effervescence during each show is incredible and inspiring. A newfound happiness was exemplified in both his presence and his voice. As he jumped around stage singing the songs that were very familiar, both Dan and the band managed to make it feel brand new. Their vivacity never once faltered from the minute they walked on stage to the minute they left.
As for the songs themselves, all twenty-one were performed with deep thought in sound and production. During Yesterday, a song about learning from your past without being stuck in it, the screens played various clips of the band when they were just starting out—touring in a tiny van, playing to less than a hundred people—ending with clips of their most recent leg of the Evolve Tour. Their growth as a band was not accidental. They have matured along with their music without losing an ounce of humility. This is a group of guys that genuinely love each other which is extremely evident by their interactions on stage. At one point, Dan even jokingly bowed to their guitarists, Wayne, as he played a solo.
Near the end of the set, all four members moved from the main stage to a smaller acoustic stage at the back of the arena, where they performed their newest song, Born to be Yours, as well as an older favorite, Amsterdam. Though many bands seem to be hopping on the “B-Stage” train, Imagine Dragons solely performed a mini acoustic set, giving the fans at the back of the room a chance to see them up close as well.
All twenty songs led to their final one of the night, Believer, which has been tearing through radio stations and Billboard charts for over a year now. I have seen this song performed three times before, so I was not expecting much of a difference. I was shocked at the sheer volume of the crowd as they screamed along with the band. Dan seemed to recognize this too as his vocals became more intense along with the crowd. They left every ounce of energy out on stage during that single performance. It has been such an honor to watch Imagine Dragons grow over the past seven years, and I’m already looking forward to seeing them again this week.
Words by Peyton Fields and Photography by Perri Fields