20/11/2015 | Sunset Sons & Imagine Dragons – Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham

Carrie Humphries

Following their run of successful tour dates in 2013, Imagine Dragons have returned to the UK for even bigger and better dates in support of second album Smoke + Mirrors. Tonight they were at the Barclaycard Arena for the Birmingham leg.

Sunset Sons were the first act on stage tonight, and performed a strong and enjoyable set which thrilled the audience members that arrived at the arena early. Many may compare Rory Williams’ powerful and soulful vocals to that of Caleb Followill from Kings of Leon. However, the band’s musical stylings are somewhat individual; retro surf-rock sounds, yet with underlying intense blues grooves which keep you guessing throughout. You may well have heard about them, as they were nominated for the BBC Sound of 2015 Award earlier in the year and have played at several major festivals during the summer months. If you haven’t heard of them, their mellow rock sounds and genuine shows are worth checking out, especially during their headline tour in March and April next year; as I doubt that you will see them play at as small venues in the future.

The audience went crazy as Imagine Dragons took to the stage with gusto, with front man Dan Reynolds smacking hell out of a giant bass drum before running to the front of the stage to sing bouncy opener Shots. It’s not just Dan who was lively through; the whole band were much like excitable children from the start, from the to-and-fro and spins of the guitarists to the rapid-paced beats of the drums. Following Shots up with another energetic track, Trouble, they then moved on to fan favourite It’s Time.

Throughout the night there were scatterings of emotional moments; especially when Dan addressed the ongoing matter of terrorist atrocities, in particular the recent Paris terror attacks. However; his speech was not one of horror or sadness, it was one of unity, and helped everyone feel uplifted as they dedicated their charity single I Was Me to the situation.

Many of the band’s bigger hits such as Demons and On Top of the World where saved for the second half of the set, which was great as it felt like the band were progressively building up throughout the show for a mind-blowing ending; which they more than delivered with I Bet My Life and Radioactive. During encore The Fall, confetti cannons exploded and Dan ended the night with a message that seemed more than apt in the world’s current situation; “We love you Birmingham. Spread peace and love.”