Concert review: Imagine Dragons' F1 closing concert entertains big time

Imagine Dragons perform on the last night of the F1 concert at the Padang Stage on Sept 18, 2016.
Imagine Dragons perform on the last night of the F1 concert at the Padang Stage on Sept 18, 2016. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Imagine Dragons on stage on the last night of the F1 concert at the Padang Stage on Sept 18, 2016.
Imagine Dragons on stage on the last night of the F1 concert at the Padang Stage on Sept 18, 2016. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Soon after tens of thousands of spectators cheered Nico Rosberg's victory at the 2016 F1 Singapore Grand Prix, a different roar was being raised at the Padang.

Las Vegas alt-rockers Imagine Dragons took to the stage to close the weekend's festivities with a 105-minute, 18-song blowout.

It was, essentially, an encore performance of their concert last year at the Indoor Stadium, with a near-identical setlist, similar visuals and even recycled banter. This was no surprise - the band are currently on a break from touring, and have no new material to promote.

Yet, everything about it felt bigger. Perhaps it was the 50,000-strong crowd. Or the enormous venue, framed by the city skyline. Or the inclusion of a runway, on which frontman Dan Reynolds spent more than half the concert merrily bouncing across.

Or maybe it was simply the fact that Imagine Dragons' arena-sized, slickly produced, radio-friendly brand of rock sounds best when played at the highest volume to the most number of people.

Hits such as It's Time, Demons and I Bet My Life drew the strongest responses, with the audience belting out every lyric as if the songs were about them. And who wouldn't be able to relate to a line like this: "Now don't you understand / That I'm never changing who I am"?

It is with this kind of earnest, inoffensive, mass-appeal sentiments that the Grammy-winning quartet have built their relatively short career. Despite criticisms from the international music press of their genre-hopping and lack of originality, they have managed to spin huge commercial success.

The show's sonic bombast levelled out all the stylistic differences in their repertoire, making the joyous, breezy On Top Of The World sit comfortably alongside the plaintive indie-rock of Amsterdam and the heavy riffing of Friction. Searing guitar solos from Daniel Wayne Sermon were tacked on to newer cuts Gold and Smoke And Mirrors, because Imagine Dragons really want to remind you that they were a rock band, no matter their mainstream pop sensibilities.

There was no faulting their effort. The band matched the energy of their music, lunging towards and spinning away from one another, never missing a note.

But this was clearly the Dan Reynolds show. He leapt tirelessly across the B-stage. He flashed his disarming grin. He punched the air and dropped to his knees whenever the song called for it. He repeatedly yelled "Singapore!" between lyrics and told the audience how they "really have to help (him) sing this next one".

And those were just his usual tricks. Just for Sunday night, Reynolds pulled a few more, including ripping off his T-shirt to female screams and briefly donning a Mercedes cap, perhaps to acknowledge Rosberg's race-winning team.

The best was saved for the last. An apocalyptic, bone-rattling rendition of the band's breakout hit Radioactive, complete with pyrotechnics that were not seen in their 2015 show. Then it hits you. Plumes of fire during the finale? Ah yes, Dragons. Imagine that.