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Imagine Dragons at the Commodore Ballroom

Imagine Dragons at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, March 14 2013. Christopher Edmonstone photo.

Imagine Dragons at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, March 14 2013. Christopher Edmonstone photo.

Review and photos – Imagine Dragons at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, March 14 2013

– review by Joy dela Cruz/photos by Christopher Edmonstone

The last time Imagine Dragons visited Vancouver was early October last year, when they played to a respectable showing at Venue. Having finished their early club gig, the Las Vegas-based alt-rock quartet – lead singer Dan Reynolds, bassist Ben McKee, guitarist Wayne Sermon, and drummer Dan Platzman – decided to check out the show already in progress across the street: Grizzly Bear at the Commodore Ballroom. “I went inside and wished that one day we’d play a headlining show there,” Reynolds recounted to the crowd Thursday night. Six months later, he got his wish.

Like the rest of the stops on their  North American tour, this show was sold-out. The commercial success of their 2012 debut Night Visions, anchored by the singles “It’s Time” and the heart-thumping “Radioactive”, has given Imagine Dragons a verifiable fan base, an eager crowd that opening act Nico Vega probably didn’t mind having.

The L.A.-based rock band, fronted by Reynolds’ wife Aja Volkman, opened their set with an out-of-place acoustic piece, followed by a selection of songs  laced with loud riffs, heavy percussion, and a touch of old school punk. Nico Vega has a sound reminiscent of bands that have tirelessly toured the Sunset Strip – raw and unabashed.

Sadly, they drew a lukewarm response from the crowd. Their set rang of desperation at times, with Volkman repeatedly reminding everyone who they were, as if we hadn’t heard the first time.  Transitions between songs were sloppy, which made it hard to know when a song ended and a new one began. The one saving grace of their set came  near the end, with a Stomp-inspired drum interlude leading up to their best known song, “Beast”. It was a game effort, and for a band that is yet to release a full-length album, Nico Vega was able to keep the audience at bay until the arrival of the main act.

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Aja Volkman with Nico Vega at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, July 21 2010. Skot Nelson photo

Photos – Nico Vega at the Biltmore Cabaret, July 21 2010

An impressive projector screen backdrop and the bombastic “Round and Round” set the tone for what would be an amazing set for the headliners. Percussion was the theme of the night, with each song featuring carefully-placed heavy drum beats that reverberated through the Commodore.  Songs like “Tiptoe” and “Demons” showed the band’s  arena-esque pop rock sensibilities, while “Rocks” and the  Telus commercial favourite “On Top Of The World” showcased a more world beat side to their music.

The loudest cheers were, as expected, for their two current singles, including the aforementioned “Radioactive”. This one featured Reynolds and Sermon beating furiously on a gigantic Japanese taiko drum. The ovation from the crowd was loud, even deafening at times, with the band visibly humbled and overwhelmed by the great response. “I wish Vegas could be more like you guys,” Reynolds said at one point, in awe of the crowd’s adulation.

“I think this is the start of a long relationship, Vancouver,” Reynolds proclaimed just before an amazing extended encore of “Nothing Left To Say.” Sure enough, this show was a dream fulfilled for Imagine Dragons – as it was for the people who were fortunate enough to see them live.

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