Smoke & Mirrors with Imagine Dragons at Amalie Arena

By on July 17, 2015


Dan Reynolds Imagine Dragons 02

Dan Reynolds Imagine Dragons (Photo-Travis Failey)

Imagine Dragons came to the Tampa area and performed in front of over ten thousand fans on Friday night. In support of their second release Smoke + Mirrors, Imagine Dragons supported by Metric from Canada and another quick riser on the scene in Halsey, brought with them all the bells and whistles that a veteran arena act usually provides during their shows.

When I first heard that Imagine Dragons was coming to the Tampa area, I was intrigued. I was not familiar with their music as they are out of my comfort zone but I knew that they were very popular, especially with the younger, pop influenced crowd. Some would call them rock but that blanket is spread too wide these days. Hell, Kanye West calls himself a “rock star.” Now that’s funny and completely ridiculous.

Emily Haines Metric 02

Emily Haines Metric (Photo-Travis Failey)

Before I cover a show, I like to do some research on the bands that will be performing, especially bands that I am unfamiliar with. It usually starts with YouTube as I like to know what 3 songs they will be performing at the start of their set. As a concert photographer, you only get to shoot the first three songs of the set and then you either go to your seat or you go into the back of the facility to wait until the next band comes on. Tonight would be the latter situation. Upon going to Youtube and searching for Imagine Dragons, I was immediately shocked at the number of views some of their videos have gotten. Most in the seven figure range but upon clicking on “Radioactive,” I saw over 366 million views, That’s right 366 million. Now I realized that this band was popular but never to that level and what is really amazing is that they have only been together for 7 years. Talk about instant traction. When I saw these numbers, I knew that I had to check these guys out in person and I’m glad I did.


(Photo-Travis Failey)

Arriving to the Amalie Arena early, I noticed something a bit strange and rare for a concert in our area: A huge line that stretched around the facility like you usually see at Disney for a new attraction.  I asked what this line was for, maybe a meet and greet?. But it was just thousands of their fans waiting to get into the Arena to see their favorite band. This would also be verified as I spoke with a few of their fans prior to the beginning of the show, and their opinions of Imagine Dragons were consistent across the board: a great band with great songs and a show to boot.


Imagine Dragons dropped the curtain covering the stage and their enigmatic frontman Dan Reynolds, came out to the crowd via the runway that extended into the middle of the general admission floor. which was filled with adoring fans. “Shots” would be the first song of their set and it is the third single from Smoke + Mirrors. From there the band went into “Trouble” and really upped the lasers and the strobe lights to mimic a space battle like environment. With Reynolds reaching out to his fans from the triangle point riser, he controlled the crowd with intimacy and energy.

Dan Reynolds Imagine Dragons 03

Dan Reynolds Imagine Dragons (Photo-Travis Failey)

For the third song and the last of the night for me, Imagine Dragons broke into fan favorite,“Its Time”  and it was here that their musicianship really shined. The Berkley trained musicians excel in creating music that provides a lift to your spirit and puts a smile on your face. While the crowd’s focus was primarily on Reynolds, guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee and drummer Dan Platzman play vital roles and are the backbone of Imagine Dragons.

Wayne Wing Sermon Imagine Dragons

Wayne Sermon Imagine Dragons (Photo-Travis Failey)

Emily Haines Metrix 04

Emily Haines Metric (Photo-Travis Failey)

Prior to Imagine Dragons taking the stage, Metric from Toronto played a set that was worthy of a headliner. On tour to help support their upcoming sixth studio album release Pagans in Vegas, Metric opened with “Stadium Rock.” Vocalist Emily Haines head-banged like she was leading a metal band and really put on a performance to remember. She also played the synth keys and smashed the tambourine through the three song set that I witnessed. With solid backing vocals by guitarist James Shaw and bassist Josh Winstead, It was obvious why many at the arena were just as familiar with their songs as they were with Imagine Dragons. Catchy chorus’ and singable verses led by Haines and a magnetic personality that you are automatically drawn to.

Emily Haines Metrix 01

Emily Haines Metric (Photo-Travis Failey)

Joules Scott-Key Metrix 03

Joules Scott-Key Metric (Photo-Travis Failey)

The opener for tonight’s concert was a newcomer on the music scene from New Jersey in Halsey, fronted by Ashley Nicolette Frangipane. Frangipane is the epitomy of a go-getter who developed her career by posting videos of herself on Youtube. Obviously this worked out for her, as she just got a slot on one of the biggest concert tours of the summer. She glided across the stage while singing powerful and thought provoking lyrics as the boys and girls in the crowd were mesmerized. With Frangipane’s upcoming release in “Badlands,” and with more seasoning not only on this tour but at her upcoming Lallapalooza show in Chicago, there’s no doubt that Ashley Nicolette Frangipane is destine to be a household name like Taylor Swift.


Halsey (Photo-Travis Failey)

The Imagine Dragon’s Smoke + Mirrors tour wasn’t just a concert: it was an event. Maybe not to me or others who aren’t very familiar with Imagine Dragon’s music, but it was for many others who attended. The anticipation and the participation by the crowd was palpable throughout the night. It was an evening of uplifting music fronted by three amazing singers who are very different from each other and highly engaging. I would suggest checking out this tour when it comes to your city and take your kids along. You just might gain a new respect for this brand of music, I know I did.


(Photo-Travis Failey)

Ben McKee Imagine Dragons

Ben McKee Imagine Dragons (Photo-Travis Failey)

Dan Reynolds Imagine Dragons04

Dan Reynolds Imagine Dragons (Photo-Travis Failey)

Daniel Platzman Imagine Dragons

Daniel Platzman Imagine Dragons (Photo-Travis Failey)


Halsey (Photo-Travis Failey)


(Photo-Travis Failey)



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