Imagine Dragons at MK Stadium
It has been four long years since Imagine Dragons last played on UK shores, and tonight proves worth the wait. Choosing to play just one UK show on their European tour, at Milton Keynes’s MK Stadium, is a bold move, and one that pays off.
Not even the English weather could stop the Nevada natives from putting on their most ambitious show yet. They powered through a two-hour set of their most loved and best known tracks, with some fan favourites and recent singles thrown in, pyrotechnics, confetti cannons and theatrical visuals bringing the stadium to life.
If music is a religion, Dan Reynolds is the preacher. Spending most of the show moving around a runway leaning out from the stage, the impassioned frontman commands his adoring crowd with every note. The rest of the band – guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, drummer Daniel Platzman and a touring keyboardist – keep the adrenaline going as Reynolds gets familiar with their legions of fans. By the number of flags in the audience, many seem to have travelled far and wide to be in his presence.
Philosophical documentary-style interludes tie the show together – cheesy in the wrong hands, but, with a band who have built their brand around meaningfulness, it feels poignant and appropriate. There are passionate speeches about loving yourself and making the most of life (one notably in support of seeking therapy treatment) preceding many of the songs. With lyricism that often speaks of vulnerability and being unapologetically human, connection feels inevitable; moments of tenderness are woven throughout, the most touching during a cover of Alphaville’s Forever Young, when a fan hands Reynolds a Ukrainian flag. Another sees the 30,000 strong choir belting out the words “It’s okay to not be okay.”
“We’re just getting started” the frontman declares an hour in, before somehow launching into an even louder and more exhilarating second half. As the rain gets harder, the T-shirt comes off and all remaining inhibitions are lost amid the repertoire of big stadium rock tunes. Tonight just makes sense. Heavier hits Thunder, Whatever It Takes and Walking the Wire are highlights, alongside new single Bones.
Forgoing an encore, the show ends with Radioactive. A usually hard-hitting track that dominated the airwaves in 2013, it instead opens as a piano-led ballad, before building up to a dramatic leave it all-on-the-table finale. The band make good on their earlier promise to “give you everything we’ve got tonight” with an intoxicating guitar solo, extended outro and pyro that somehow expand their biggest hit.
As the lights come up on Imagine Dragons’ triumphant return to the UK, the energy is palpable. It is refreshing to see a band that has been dominating stages around the world for the past decade still enjoying themselves this much. A euphoric concert of escapism and human connection for both artist and fan, this is a night many won’t soon forget. If one thing is clear, it’s true that Imagine Dragons are only just getting started.
Photos: Martina Liberini
For further information and future events visit Imagine Dragons’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Bones here: