WEST VALLEY CITY — Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds boldly addressed several timely and heavy topics Oct. 13, speaking out about the recent Las Vegas shooting, LGBTQ acceptance, depression and musician Tom Petty’s death at the band’s Utah “Evolve” concert tour stop.
Reynolds’ voice wavered on the stage of the sold-out USANA Amphitheatre, filled to its 20,000-seat capacity, as he spoke about the recent devastation in his hometown of Las Vegas, saying the band’s tour has “taken on a whole new meaning” through the heavy events of the last month.
“We gather in this place full of people from all over the world; from different cultures, different colors, different sexual orientations, different religions, different political values, different classes. And the reason that I love music is because it shows us that none of that matters. None of us should separate because of those things,” Reynolds said.
The singer also addressed the importance of accepting LGBTQ individuals, particularly LGBTQ youth.
“The most incredible day of my entire life, the most meaningful day of my life to date, was here in Utah playing LoveLoud Festival. You came and you showed our LGBTQ youth that you love them,” Reynolds said. “May we continue to show them our love, our support, our acceptance. They need it, they need us, they need us, they need us.”
Prior to Imagine Dragons’ performance of the group’s hit song “Demons,” Reynolds also talked about his struggle with depression, encouraging others with a similar struggle to reach out for help.
“My greatest conversations in life, my greatest learning, has been sitting down and talking to a therapist. There’s no harm in saying that,” Reynolds said. “I would have never, ever turned to music if it wasn’t for depression. It brought me to my knees, it brought me to a place of extreme discomfort and it turned me to music, and through music, I found peace. Through music, I found so much refuge and solace, and so the truth is, if it weren’t for depression, I wouldn’t be standing on this stage today.”
Reynolds also spoke about guilt and regret before the group played “Yesterday,” which features the lyrics, “Here's to my future, goodbye to yesterday.”
A change in setting midway through Imagine Dragons’ set also included a change in mood, as the group moved from the front of the arena to a makeshift stage in the middle of the auditorium seating and sang “I Won’t Back Down,” a cover dedicated to Tom Petty, “one of the greatest lyricists and melody writers there is,” Reynolds said.
“We hope to do it some sort of justice,” Reynolds said before the performance.
The crowd’s swaying cellphone lights during the song and applause afterward seemed to echo its approval of Imagine Dragons’ tribute.
In this new stage setting, the group also played an acoustic-style version of their song “Bleeding Out,” with guitarist Daniel Wayne Sermon playing the electric cello, bassist Ben McKee on the electric string bass and drummer Daniel Platzman on an electric viola shaped like an electric guitar.
Imagine Dragons’ set for the night included all of the band’s top hits: “Thunder,” “Radioactive,” “Demons,” “It’s Time,” “I Bet My Life” and the concert’s finale, “Believer.”
Reynolds said it felt like home to be performing in Utah, complimenting the state for its environment of peace, love and acceptance.
“I hope you know how much we love you, Utah. I hope you know how much of this state is in our blood, that has been in our blood from the very beginning," he said. "We would not exist if it wasn’t for the people of Utah who believed in a tiny little band playing at the Velour in Provo. We don’t forget.”
Some of the visual effects during Imagine Dragons’ set were particularly unique and impressive, including bubbles that filled with fog from the stage as they floated out into the crowd, and large blue and orange balloons that bounced from the back of the crowd to the front during the group’s performance of “On Top of the World,” spreading joy with each fingertip they touched along the way.
Imagine Dragons played a total of 20 songs during the concert, which felt a little long in the cold weather, but the crowd stayed on its feet the entire time and seemed to enjoy itself more and more as the night went on.
Rather than leave the stage and come back for an encore, Reynolds explained toward the end of the concert that the band would stay onstage and play as many songs as they could until the venue’s curfew.
“It’s too cold for that, and there’s not enough time in the day,” Reynolds said. “We need to get as many songs in as we can.”
Perhaps it was the 53-degree weather that kept the crowd relatively still through both Grouplove and K.Flay’s openers, but Imagine Dragons' performance made for an uplifting concert that kept families and fans up on their feet and excited throughout the clear, chilly evening.