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Review: Imagine Dragons at American Airlines Center

Posted 11:06am on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014

Is it still rock music if it bears no discernible edge?

By definition, rock music suggests danger, grit and adrenaline.

The only danger involving Imagine Dragons is repetitive stress injuries from the band members bashing on all of the drums they have scattered about the stage.

The latest banal band to ascend the charts and lodge itself in heavy rotation, Imagine Dragons, fresh off its Grammy win last month for best rock performance, spent roughly 100 minutes Friday basking in the glow of an adoring audience inside American Airlines Center.

The Las Vegas alt-rockers’ “Into the Night” tour, which brought them to Dallas for the fourth time in the last 12 months, wasn’t quite a sell-out, but you wouldn’t have known it looking around at the transfixed faces singing along with every word, Snapchatting and Instagramming every strobe flash and plume of smoke and generally acting as though this show was and will be the pinnacle of concert-going in 2014. (“That was awesome!” I heard a child behind me exclaim at one point, without a trace of irony.)

The affable, bland quintet — the four-piece band is filled out by an extra guitarist on tour — worked through its colorless anthems, each spilling into the next with little to differentiate them.

Only Rocks, a dynamic departure into vaguely Afro-pop polyrhythms, gave any sense of variety — Imagine Dragons rarely deviates from its preferred mode of hokey uplift, mushy cliches and total nonsense (“I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus/This is it, the apocalypse” goes one line from the smash hit Radioactive).

With just one album to its credit, 2012’s Night Visions, Imagine Dragons had to stretch to fill its time on stage, which, unfortunately, meant resorting to drum, bass and guitar solos (is it 1976?) and a cover of Rush’s Tom Sawyer. Nothing wrong with tipping the cap to classic rock, but it might behoove the band to select a tune its lead vocalist can actually sing. The upper limits of Sawyer proved no match for Dan Reynolds’ constricted range.

Not every rock band can make a show feel like anything could happen, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be a bloodless, pre-programmed march through dull, shallow songs. The reception afforded Imagine Dragons befitted an arena-conquering dynamo. The music being made, however, was anything but.

Preston Jones, 817-390-7713 Twitter: @prestonjones

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