Playing for the first time in Singapore on their Smoke + Mirrors tour, American rockers Imagine Dragons made a thoroughly fiery impression on the audience in a 105-minute effects-laden show that was anything but an illusion.
Featuring a panoply of multi- coloured lasers, strobe lights, LED screen panels and live videos, it could have been a preview of the forthcoming new Star Wars movie.
Rather than overwhelm the music, the overly dramatic flourishes complemented the raspy vocal prowess of frontman Dan Reynolds, who blazed effortlessly through a solid 16-song setlist and one encore number.
The band's entrance into the stadium did not give the slightest clue of the supercharged sensory experience that was to come, as they casually sauntered on stage 15 minutes after an 8pm scheduled start.
They kicked off with Shots and Trouble, two numbers from their latest album Smoke + Mirrors (2014), to relatively low energy from the 8,500-strong crowd comprising teens and working adults, most of whom were probably more familiar with the band's breakout debut album, Night Visions (2012).
Then Imagine Dragons launched into their breakthrough hit It's Time and the crowd burst into life with thunderous screams and applause.
With Reynolds urging the crowd to "forget about work, forget about school and everything that stresses you out", fans unabashedly sang along at the top of their voices to the band's other monster hits, the deeply relatable Demons and the poppy, feel-good On Top Of The World.
Every visual spectacle was perfectly calibrated for each segment. Thumping, uptempo tracks such as Gold and I Bet My Life were bolstered by the throbbing, pulsating streaks of lights and lasers that zipped across all corners of the stadium in a riot of colours.
These dizzying displays alternated nicely with the intoxicating hues of purple, red and blue light bathing the band's acoustic introductions of more understated numbers such as Amsterdam and Warriors.
The spotlight was always on Reynolds, who demonstrated an undeniably charismatic stage presence to rival the likes of the late Freddie Mercury.
Head-banging and jumping about with reckless abandon, he got fans to respond with emphatic fist-pumping and arm-waving throughout every number.
The rest of the band were content to take a backseat to the dominating frontman, though they each executed a few electrifying solos during certain numbers.
While it would have been nice to see more interaction among the group and not just the flashy theatrics, Reynolds seemed to share a genuine connection with the audience as he candidly spoke of how he had read up on the culture of Singapore before arriving here. "To come all the way over to Singapore for our first time and to see all these people singing along to all the words means so much to us. I can't even begin to express that to you," he said.
At the end came Radioactive, arguably their biggest rock hit to date, a spellbinding display of the best the band had to offer and, of course, taking to a climax the night's most seismic array of lights and lasers.
This article was first published on August 27, 2015.
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