Imagine Dragons: Ben McKee, Wayne Sermon, Dan Platzman and Dan Reynolds/ Associated Press photo
Let’s be honest. Too many male pop/rock singers on the radio sound similar. So it helps to have something to set you apart.
Imagine Dragons have found just that. Frontman Dan Reynolds channels his inner marching-band drummer while singing onstage.
On Friday at the sold-out Varsity Theater, Reynolds had five different drum options: The giant marching bass drum (radius about 6 feet), the big marching bass drum (radius about 4 feet), two different sized tom-toms (on different parts of the stage) and a small drum kit (like one of those marching drum set ups with multiple drums but no harness).
From time to time, Reynolds hit the drums, especially during instrumental passages featuring guitarist Wayne Sermon. Do you think the high-energy, fun-loving singer might have been hyperactive as a child?
Even though it was only a club show, Imagine Dragons may have demonstrated the most resourceful and unexpected use of drums in concert since Fleetwood Mac trotted out the University of South California marching band for “Tusk.”
All that drumming at the Varsity made you forget that Reynolds, who fashions something of a faux British accent while singing, sounds like Phillip Phillips and/or Marcus Mumford. That many of Imagine Dragons’ songs suggest fellow Las Vegas rockers, the Killers. That the world-beat/reggae tunes suggest Vampire Weekend.
However, a handful of Imagine Dragons’ original selections stood out, truly connecting with a crowd that appeared to range in age from 10 to 50. The fans went wild for the two big radio favorites – the drum-driven, catchy “It’s Time” (which starts with Mumford-like banjo sounds played on guitar) and “Radioactive,” an explosion of Top 40 grunge with its chant-along cadence (that prompted hundreds of arms waving in unison) and, of course, a finish that was a flourish of four drummers.
Clearly familiar with all the tunes on Imagine Dragons’ sole album, 2012's “Night Visions,” the crowd sang along to the feel-good “On Top of the World,” which suggested a hyperactive Jason Mraz; “Bleeding Out,” an anthem with a big beat, and “Demons,” with its Black Eyed Peas-like verses and a chorus that echoed Beyonce’s “Halo.”
The 85-minute performance had a real positive vibe.
Even though they are a T-shirt-and-jeans dudes, Imagine Dragons know how to put on a show – from the stage fog and back lighting (no follow spots for them) to nearly every song starting with an ethereal guitar introduction from Sermon.
And the friendly and likable Reynolds talked about his previous trips to Minneapolis with enthusiasm and detail (Basilica Block Party), and he was clearly taken by the vociferous reaction of the fans.
For Imagine Dragons, mission accomplished.