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Imagine Dragons was on top of the world on Valentine’s Day.
“It’s been a wild last year,” a reflexive Dan Reynolds, fittingly dressed in a black short-sleeved tee one size too small (his midriff should have received co-starring credit) and dark skinny jeans, told the sold-out crowd at the renovated Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Friday during the five-week Into the Night Tour. And it has. On Jan. 26, the pop-rock band won its first Grammy (best rock performance, trumping stalwarts David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and Queens of the Stone Age) and fired up the stage with a memorable percussion-heavy remix of its biggest radio hit, “Radioactive,” with hip-hop artist and Interscope labelmate Kendrick Lamar. Not to mention their Feb. 2 gig on Saturday Night Live. (“Radioactive,” by the way, has remained on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for an astounding 75 consecutive weeks.)
The Las Vegas group’s ascension to the top was not lost on the 26-year-old Reynolds, who spent the majority of the evening musing about their pre-Night Visions days – from living by the Church of Scientology in Hollywood and playing the now-shuttered Cat Club to growing up listening to classic rock and their band manager sitting them down to warn of the “snooty” Los Angeles crowd. The latter was just a myth, Reynolds insisted to loud cheers.
Though Imagine Dragons has been around for five years, it wasn’t until 2012’s debut full-length album that brought them into the mainstream fold — and they gave the fans what they wanted with a smattering of popular jingles, such as “It’s Time” and “Demons.” But highlights of the 90-minute set were the deeper cuts, including “Tiptoe,” road trip jaunt “Amsterdam,” “Hear Me,” their militant Hunger Games: Catching Fire contribution “Who We Are” or the impressively realized “Cha-Ching (Till We Grow Older),” one of the first songs the foursome wrote together while in Vegas. At one point during the show, Reynolds acknowledged the fans who have stuck by the group from the very beginning, dedicating the inspirational yet pensive “The River” from 2011’s It’s Time EP.
With a stable of just a dozen or so songs, Reynolds and his bandmates made up for it with their energetic drum work and lengthy guitar riffs, often showcasing their instrumental talents for five, 10 minutes on end. Though the set consisted mainly of original efforts, Imagine Dragons took it back a few decades with their own rendition of Rush’s 1981 head-thumper “Tom Sawyer.” Reynolds admitted that it was a song they were “very intimidated” to do “and we still are,” before warning that his baritone voice may be unable to reach the high notes. Their version wasn’t perfect, but certainly the intention was there.
It would be “On Top of the World,” the bubbly pop-rock gem at the end of the night that would awaken the 18,000-strong. As if taking in his moment in the spotlight, Reynolds high-fived audience members — many noticeably there for the Top 40 hits — as he ran through the crowd, crooning “I’m on top of the world / Waiting on this for a while now / Paying my dues to the dirt / I’ve been waiting to smile” as bouncy balls filled with confetti rained in amid a venue-wide jumping party before rapturing the crowd once more with show-stopper “Radioactive.”
It was five years in the making, but it was as fitting as ever.
Who We Are
Cha-Ching (Till We Grow Older)
Tom Sawyer (Rush cover)
On Top of the World
Nothing Left to Say
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