Friday, 2 March 2018

Imagine Dragons at the O2

So, a gig tonight, but would it survive the weather? Well obviously. Despite the forecasts, this was not the end of days, just a dusting of snow. Made my walk to the station a little more scenic though.

Getting to the O2 was tougher. Delays and overcrowding on the Jubilee Line so made it. But the worst aspect was the queuing at the O2. Ignore all the hype; the O2 is a shit venue. Its just big so bands play there. The most irritating feature is simply that there are not enough entrances for the number of people trying to get in. If you like being treated like cattle, then this is the place for you. Otherwise, well just suck it up and hope the band you are seeing will become less successful and have to play a music venue not an arena.

So I wasn't in the best mood when I finally got in, but I managed to find a spot right down at the front behind only three young Indian ladies who had the inestimable virtue of being even shorter than I am, so had a great view from the side of the stage.

Unfortunately the support act was truly awful. Occasionally you see a support act and think, hmm they are good. Wouldn't mind seeing them on their own. Most often you think, yeah, no distinguishing features. Last time I will come across them. But also a few times you have a support that are so awful that no sound would have been an improvement. K. Flay was squarely in that category. Utterly talentless, but actually painful to listen to. Vocals were a combination of rap, singing, yelping and baby voice. Just very irritating. The music was utterly banal; just strumming or banging away. Noise not music. Of no artistic merit whatsoever.

Given a chouce between listening to K Flay and a sawmill, I would recommend the sawmill.

So by this time, I was grumpy and wondering what I had come for. But of course I quickly remembered as had seen Imagine Dragons before. A great set of songs, sung extremely well by a thoroughly engaging band. This set fairly crackled right from the start.

What marks them out is lead singer Dan Reynolds, although I also like the fact that the band aren't anonymous backing musicians but play a full part too in the whole act.

SO what makes Dan so good? Well for a start just brilliant strong rock vocals. A voice of power and great range. Then there is the energy of the performance. He really works the stage, and being the O2 and its generally too big he made up for it somewhat by having a catwalk out into the audience (and also doing a small acoustic set on a secondary stage near the back so that even those near the rear could see him a bit. It helps that he is a fit good-looking 30 year old.

So any reservations? Well yes two. Firstly, its almost too good. An odd criticism, but I just mean it feels like rehearsed spontaneity. It is almost too slick. Right down to the wearing of the open shirt and vest, almost teasing his female audience with glimpses of his biceps before finally removing his shirt. The moves just seem really well=polished, although trying not to be.

The other bit is the virtue signalling. Why do rock artists think they have some blinding insight on modern politics or social affairs? Its not that I disagreed with any of the sentiments, just that tehy are so banal. Peace, love equality, gun control, dealing with depression. All god topics for debate, but not 5 minutes of bland simplistic emoting in between songs. "I know people say its a cliche" says Dan winding up towards saying peace is a good thing, but yes, it is a cliche, and that's why it is so boring. Get on with what you are good at. And singing and performing is what he is really, really good at. Would recommend seeing them any time you can. Selling out the O2 two nights running shows I am not the only one who thinks so.

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