Imagine Dragons’ Evolve Tour: An uplifting, visual masterpiece


Photo credit: Jessica Goldberg

Samantha Dickerson, Lifestyles Assistant Editor

When music lovers talk about rock bands that can churn out hits, they are usually talking about 80’s musicians like Queen, Aerosmith or AC/DC. These bands have lasting power and chances are, if a student owns a radio or Spotify, they have jammed out to one of these musicians and belted lyrics into a hairbrush.

There have been very few bands that can not only make audiences dance and sing but also those that can make them think and feel differently about situations that everyone deals with in real life. This is the quality that really pulls a band out from popular to beloved.

Over the course of the Evolve Tour, Imagine Dragons have proved their worth and lasting power. Imagine Dragons is not only a hit of the younger generation, but they have produced music that feels like an anthem every time and touches the soul of the listener.

On July 5, Imagine Dragons held a concert at Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh for their newest album, “Evolve.” Even with a weather delay holding gate openings, the crowd was still elated. Children sang new “Evolve” songs to each other, parents parked it in a fold-out chair, listening to Spotify to get pumped and teenage fans danced with each other under threat of rain.

During the concert, the band played all their music on the “Evolve” album except for “Dancing in the Dark.” Some of the highlights of the arrangement were some of their underrated songs such as “Walking the Wire,” “Next to Me” and “Start Over.” Something about these songs in particular when played live is very touching or uplifting. The crowd was able to breathe them in and become a part of the songs themselves, which elevated the experience and made for a powerful performance.

Other songs from older albums, and big hits, such as “Radioactive,” “It’s Time” and “Demons” were used as intro or encore music for more seasoned fans that like their older material. The “Evolve” album as a whole is more uplifting than past albums and personifies a “take-on-the-world” attitude, which was easily seen by the rainbow cover of the album versus the darker covers from the past.

Because Dan Reynolds, lead singer of the band, writes most of the songs, his ideas and feelings play a large part in the success of the music. Songs like “Demons” are very personal and often delve into darker emotions that artists generally don’t want to display in a pop/rock setting. One important message Reynolds and the band shared that night was the importance of destigmatizing depression and other mental illness.

Reynolds went on to explain that many people deal with these feelings on a regular basis and that darkness played a large part in him writing the music on the first two albums, but “Evolve” was about finding happiness even when it is difficult, and urged fans to seek help and talk to someone about their problems if they were going through something similar. This was not only a touching part of the concert but also an important one for many of the fans.

Walnut Creek also has a B Stage that is a lot smaller than their main stage, but it is directly positioned in the middle of fans. This was a perfect time for the band to play acoustic covers of their songs, “Amsterdam,” “I Bet My Life” and a new collaboration with Kygo called “Born to Be Yours,” which is a great song about the feeling of overwhelming love. The acoustic setting accompanied these songs well and allowed the band to get personal with the audience in a way that the main stage does not.

Musicians often let their fans down by sounding differently in person than they do on a soundtrack. However, Dan Reynolds’ musical strength and prowess really shined through during his performance. Reynolds almost always hits the notes just as they sound on the band’s album. Even though he has to run around, play drums, make speeches and overall make the experience more visual, it never slows down his musical performance. His ability to produce reputable music explains why each of their albums has gone platinum.

While the spectacle for smaller stages is normally not considered to be as over the top as many other larger venues, the band used every space at the amphitheater to create a show.

Giant screens hung over and around the band, reflecting their images in real time as they beat drums, played the piano and shredded on the guitar. During one of the songs, there was an introduction and a time-lapsed, pink outline of a ballerina perfectly accompanied the music. The movements presented on the screen were so dainty and reflected the emotion Dan Reynolds and the band portrayed through the music.

Twice during the show, confetti shot from the stage on a beat drop and once balloons appeared from above and bounced around in the crowd. It was a visual masterpiece from start to finish.