Imagine Dragons

support Dan Croll
author HES date 04/11/13 venue Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, DEN

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The last time I saw a show in Falconér Salen it was a seated show. I haven’t seen the venue with a standing audience before, but I have heard word of horrible sound, that I couldn’t really get to fit with the Kashmir-show I saw here about six months ago - so I think to myself that it's just evil rumours. I’m here at 20 minutes ‘til go time - the spare time granted by Falconér’s speedy cloakroom system. Neither the venue website, nor the booker have supplied me with a name of the warm up act which is unfortunate, because I like to check out the warm up artists at home before a show. Luckily the guy in the merch-stand helps me out with a name and I use my 20 minutes googling:

Dan Croll

Dan Croll is apparently a big deal if you’re into classic rock. He attended the Sir Paul McCartney founded LIPA-school in Liverpool and even won 1 out of 8 slots in a competition with the prize of mentoring by McCartney himself. By BBC1 he has been described as “Paul Simon jamming with Prince” - quite the accurate description of his sound tonight that is eclectic but jazzy, funky but classic. Unfortunately we are indeed experiencing horrible sound during his set. The drums, especially the bass drum is way too loud - but strangely it is the only sound that makes it from stage from the lower part of the tonal spectrum. The sound is split into that low, overpowering bass drum and treble high tones. Musically there is no middle which makes the soundscape very superficial and flat. Besides that, the still half-empty room makes the sounds reverb back and forth and it almost sounds like a very windy day on an outside festival stage - the sound being thrown around a lot.

Croll has a repetoir of sweet, quirky songs with different musical themes: “I Wanna Know” has a bluesy edge, another song has a calypso feel and his recent single “Compliment Your Soul” is almost a modern Buddhist spiritual. I think he has talent, McCartney thinks he has talent, yet unfortunately it doesn’t rub off on the sound which doesn’t get better through-out the show. The keys on the last song “Home” are so shrill I have to cover my ears. I feel sorry for this seemingly talented guy but I suspect there has been no soundcheck for Croll, which is bewildering at best – unprofessional if true.


Imagine Dragons

I saw Imagine Dragons on Northside Festival this summer and it was brilliant. The band had just had their first massive single in the shape of “Radioactive” and they were clearly still overjoyed with getting to play actual gigs in front of bigger audiences. As the show starts I am equally worried and hopeful that they haven’t lost that. But it only takes a couple of songs for me to realize the sad truth: The honeymoon is over.

The sound is exponentially better than during the warm up - however it’s still not near being as good as it was last time I was here. Dan Reynolds, the leadsinger and absolute frontman of Imagine Dragons starts the show off by a bit of drumming on a vertical drum. The stage setup features no less than 4 drum-pieces: In front of the main drum kit with Dan Platzman behind them, are a couple of hanging drums of a normal size that Reynolds is behind during the theatrical, ambient intro. Besides these two setups, there’s one massive folksy drum all the way in the back, behind bassist Ben McKee and twice the size of him. A final fourth drum - a super-sized marching band style drum is wheeled in later during the show. All are operated by Reynolds and most of them are completely superfluous. I for one like a fancy stage show - but it has to come from a genuine place with basis in the music.

Reynolds is a showman and he will probably break the vast amount of teenage-hearts here tonight and a few middle-aged hearts as well. He knows all the tricks in the book such as “How do you say "I love you" in Danish?”, sticking out the mic into the crowd for sing-alongs, summoning giant Muse-show’ish balloons, “Copenhageeeeeeen?” and so on. However, it does get a bit cheesy, even for people who have not already seen the routine as I already have once at Northside. A wonderful break from this is provided in a cover of The Cure’s “Love Song” that Reynolds proclaims they are only playing for us. I know the prior setlists from my pre-show research and yes, at least it is the first time they play that song and the little, laid back, nostalgic twist really suits the band in contrast to the many stadium rock-songs like Imagine Dragon singles “It’s Time” and “Demons” with their full-on, in-your-face theatrics. It also seems like Reynolds is genuinely enjoying breaking the habitual with this cover.

Unfortunately the show is dominated by two very unfortunate factors: The first being that the band only has one full-length album of material plus the odd songs from EP’s. I get the feeling, that the band is trying to fill the “holes” with dramatically long intros to songs and elongating solos at the end of 9 out of 10 songs. We are gifted with solos from every single instrument on stage tonight and although it is refreshing to hear an actual bass-solo by Ben McKee most of it seems like filler, not artistry. The band plays for more than 1½ hour in total, but could’ve easily shaved off 15 minutes and a lot of waiting time. The second thing is that Reynolds is not using his full voice for most of the singing. Most of the verses he sings in a kind of staccato, bitten-off manner and even though the guy has a brilliant voice - the only time I hear his full register is during the encore “Nothing Left To Say”. In the ballad “30 Lives” played acoustically, his voice is hidden in the mix and he seems fatigued and disengaged, although it’s well-hidden beneath a thick lacquer of routine and professionalism.

On the brighter side, the crowd appears to be kind of happy - supported by the band’s more up-lifting songs like “Tip-Toe” and “Top Of The World” that I personally think are brilliant pop songs. Reynolds also does a great job on the falsetto of “Cha-Ching (Till We Grow Older)” with the support of bassist McKee and his surprisingly impressive backup vocals that unfortunately often saves Reynolds mediocre vocal performance, instead of really supporting it. The hook of an Imagine Dragons song also makes for amazing sing-along and we practice this a lot through-out the show and this makes the distance between band and audience a bit shorter. Reynolds also makes a plea for the audience to “leave everything that’s on your minds outside and just enjoy the music”.

But the audience in general here is dreadfully lost “in their own minds” at this show. As mentioned there is a lot of filler-time, but for the audience it is used as small talk-time. Even through-out songs there are groups of people in loud conversation - the before mentioned sound not blocking it out in spite of us being less than 20 meters from the stage. Also there appears some kind of simultaneous phone-and-arm-forest every time the band plays one of their radio-singles – peaking, or should I say stooping to an absolute low, during their break-through single “Radioactive” late in the set. People here are literally watching their favourite songs through smartphone screens instead of just being in the moment and enjoying the music. No one can see the stage for the small, video recording screens, recording the videos being recorded on the row before them. I sincerely hope this really won’t become the “rock on” hand sign of my generation or that the future success of a concert will be measured by the amount of likes your shaky video recording gets on facebook.

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