Imagine Dragons: 'Radioactive' rockers return to Hong Kong [Review]

By Jocelyn Wong
By Jocelyn Wong |

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Imagine Dragons clearly hadn't had their fill of Hong Kong after their first, low-key appearance last June. Little more than a year later, the stadium rockers came back for a monster-sized show at AsiaWorld-Expo.

Though the crowd largely fell into the 20-something category, it was interesting to see how the photogenic foursome's appeal extended to young children as well as an older crowd - this critic even spotted a couple of high school teachers (shh, don't tell!).

The concert kick-started with a line of hits from their latest album Smoke + Mirrors .

Shots and Trouble geared up the energy level, which was maintained as frontman Dan Reynolds got the crowd involved in the performance by teaching them to sing the background vocals during Polaroid.

He was keen to get the fans onboard, encouraging them to join in with Forever Young, Gold and I Bet My Life.

It was particularly poignant to see thousands of cellphones held high, illuminating the arena with a galaxy of twinkling lights for the slower Smoke and Mirrors. At this point, a visibly moved Reynolds confessed: "I think Hong Kong might be our favourite concert of this tour so far."

One thing that really stands out during a live ID show is how some of the better-known tracks are creatively deconstructed and put back together. Instead of exactly replicating the sound of the album, the instrumentation throughout the concert was multi-layered and complex.

Gold started with simple Spanish guitar and evolved into a classic rock number. Closing the set, smash hit Radioactive was given the same treatment: cellos and acoustic guitars offered an orchestral layer behind the synths and electric guitars.

All members got their chance to shine. Guitarist Wayne Sermon delivered a noodling, extended blues solo for I'm So Sorry, before drummer Daniel Platzman's arms blurred while freestyling on Trouble. When a musician lacks the skill to pull them off, instrumental solos can feel awkward, but each Dragon proved their talent, and dashed any doubt in their abilities.

The quality of music, rather than showmanship, was Imagine Dragons' focus at the concert. For anyone there who wasn't already a huge fan of the Las Vegas rockers, this expansive audio-visual experience will have likely inspired devotion.