Thursday, February 12, 2015

Imagine Dragons Smoke + Mirrors Album Launch

I used to say that I never win anything, but since the Dave Grohl Incident, I’ve had to eat my words slightly. Still, I don’t win things often. Not at all. Remember the Two Door Cinema curse? Yeah? When no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t acquire tickets to see TDCC at their win-tickets-only gig in Cape Town three years ago? (Yes, it’s been three years and I’m still extremely bitter…)

Anyway. When I entered to win tickets to see Imagine Dragons play an exclusive gig at the House of Vans in London, I did so without even considering that I might actually win them. But hey, I moved to London to go to concerts, so I may as well try.

Imagine (ha ha ha) my surprise when I got the email saying I’d won tickets! My first choice for a plus one was, of course, Amii who absolutely adores Dragons, but seeing she couldn’t make it down from Birmingham. In the end, I was accompanied by a Victim named Sam, along with Sinead and her friend Abbey.

It must be part of the fun of exclusive gigs, that they’re never in normal venues. From TDCC in a silo somewhere near Cape Town airport, to The Kooks under a highway in Joburg and in a warehouse in the wilds of Salt River, it’s all the more exciting to be dumped into a hipster-cool venue. Dragons held their show at House of Vans, a mix between a skate park and an abandoned train tunnel, next to Waterloo Station. With the walls covered in lumo graffiti, and the inside exuding  the kind of industrial-cool that wouldn’t be out of place in Cape Town’s Woodstock area, it was the perfect place for an album launch gig.

Pretty sure this is an abandoned Tube tunnel
 After failing spectacularly at the photobooth, we managed a second row spot behind another groups of Victims (seriously, I felt like I was seeing The Killers, which is never a bad thing), and prepared ourselves for the hour and a bit wait until the band came on stage. Thankfully, the gig was live streaming around the world, so they had to be on time.

At precisely 9am, the band trouped onto the stage, and began a slow chorus of ‘It’s Time’, with frontman Dan Reynolds holding out his microphone for the audience to sing along. Somewhere between this opening chorus and the actual beginning of the song, I burst into maniacal laughter, somehow unable to believe that I was really standing here, in the middle of London, at an exclusive gig by one of the best new bands in the world, with said band less than 2 meters away from my face. And then I lost myself in the music.

The last time I saw Imagine Dragons was from the very back of a very hot, very crowded and very dusty King Tut’s Tent at T in the Park 2013. I was stuck behind the VIP platform and couldn’t see anything besides the fact that one member had Mark Stoermer-length hair. They were good back then, but this time, they were phenomenal. Intimate gigs are just that much more special. In addition to old favourites like ‘Demons’ and ‘On Top of the World’, we were treated to new material, and it went down a treat with the audience, many of whom knew all the words to ‘Gold’ already, much to Dan’s surprise. “YOUTUBE” we shouted back, when he asked how we knew it. ‘I Bet My Life’ is a million times better live than recorded, even ‘Shots’ sounds great, as does another new song called ‘Summer’. But one truly stood out for me, and that’s ‘I’m So Sorry’. It’s not often that I take to new songs when I hear them live before hearing a recorded version, but I already know that this is going to be my favourite Imagine Dragons song ever.

Hi there, Dan.

Closing with ‘Radioactive’, during which Dan beat the hell out of a massive drum on the stage, unfortunately no amount of screaming could bring them back. And so ended my first gig in London for 2015, and believe me, it’ll take The Killers to better it. Or maybe Taylor Swift.

Because yes, that’s why I moved to London. I moved here so that I can do ridiculous things like see Imagine Dragons at an exclusive gig on a Wednesday night. So that I can eat a 99p MacDonalds burger for dinner because I’ve spent all my money on tube fare to get there. So that I can leg it across Waterloo to the tube so that I make it back home before midnight. So that I can forego a leisurely stroll to work the next morning in favour of a mad dash because I’m so exhausted and chose to sleep an extra five minutes. So that I can spend the next day recovering before I see another band. That’s why I’m doing this.

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