Imagine Dragons and Their Time in Manila
August 27, 2015 – Imagine Dragons took center stage in the Philippines on Thursday evening at the MOA Arena. After releasing two wildly successful albums (Night Visions in 2008 and Smoke + Mirrors on 2014), snagging multiple Grammy and Billboard Awards, and staging sold out stadium shows throughout the world; it is very accurate to say that yes, they are indeed, as their hit song goes, ‘on top of the world’; Hey, they are, after all, Imagine Dragons, and it was their time in Manila.
Beyond Smoke and Mirrors
Firing “Shots” as the first song of the set, the show blasted off to a great start. (Pardon the numerous puns, but that was exactly how it felt like.) As soon as the lights went off and the opening lines “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done” resonated all throughout the Arena, people were throwing their hands in the air, bobbing their heads and dancing all over the place. This was sharply followed the bouncy melodies of “Trouble” and the ever anthemic and iconic “It’s Time”.
Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, the band which came to be known as Imagine Dragons is composed of Dan Reynolds on vocals, Wayne Sermon on guitar, Ben McKee on bass and Daniel Platzman on drums. Known for staging one of the most electrifying rock shows worldwide, they indeed carried their torch all the way to Manila and they did hold it up well.
Their discography, strewn with vociferously electric stadium-ready songs, was played like anthems all throughout the evening. It was magnetizing to witness how they drew the crowd into mellowing it out during their cover of Alphaville’s “Forever Young” and the tour title track “Smoke and Mirrors”. They had people jamming and rapping through “Polaroid” and “Hopeless Opus” while raging through “I’m So Sorry” and “Gold”.
“Mahal ko ka-yo,” Dan murmured afterwards with his head bent down, his eyes fixed to the ground. The crowd which was of course delighted to hear those words, hooted loudly. He then looked up, raised his hand and screamed “Mahal ko kayo!” Even as that is the most abused phrase shouted by artists who have held concerts here, it was every bit as flattering (if not more) to hear Dan say it out loud. As if to close it up with a dash of his typically salty humor, he muttered with a shy smile, “I know I sound like a stupid American, but it’s the thought that counts, right?”
The highlight amongst other highlights of the set includes the stripped down mash-up of “Amsterdam”, “Tiptoe” and “Demons”, the vibrant and viral “On Top of the World” and their killer hit “Radioactive.
It Comes Back to…
During the pauses in between songs, Dan Reynolds took his time to reach out to the crowd. Much to everyone’s surprise, he had some interesting stories to tell about his connection to the Philippines all the way from Vegas.
Halfway through the set, he revealed that although they were first time visitors in the Philippines, they had previously had memorable encounters with Filipinos. He narrated, “Two of my brothers lived here, and they always told me how wonderful the Filipino people are – they’re the most loving, kind, humble people that you’ll ever meet in the whole world. They fell in love with the people here, and they talked about you ever since I was very young – 12 years old.”
He continued, “I’ll also have you know that when I was in middle school, my best friend in the entire world was Filipino. He had just moved from the Philippines to the States. His name was Richard Arias.”
Dan paused for a moment and breathed deeply before proceeding, “He is someone I think of all the time, and someone I learned very quickly from that the Filipino people are some of the most wonderful people you’ll ever meet. (He was) very laidback. He was always happy every single day that I knew him.”
Their Time Here
Despite their short stay, there was room for fun and humor, too. The band made an effort to experience little yet legit Filipino activities such as eating the infamous balut and belting it out in karaoke.
They knew a bit of Filipino, too. Dan told, “When we woke up this morning, Ben turned to me and he said, ‘Bobo ka ba?’ (‘Are you stupid?) And I said, ‘Why would you say that to me?’ He said that’s all he knows how to say is ‘Bobowkaba?’ Dan looked at Ben, amused, “That’s ridiculous, not a true friend. I forgive you. Bobo ka ba?”
In the middle of that stage, Imagine Dragons owned the crowd. What made their concert different from other rock shows was the fact that their songs were performed like anthems – hymns to broken hopes yet a salute to undaunted optimism. All the while, people exaltedly sang their hearts to each one of them. The concert was as fascinating and as massive as the band made their music out to be. Truly, they didn’t pull out the name “Imagine Dragons” out of thin air.
On behalf of the guys, Dan expressed their gratitude, “I know we’ve only been here for one day, but the way that we’ve been treated from the people here has spoken so much to us. I just wanna say thank you so much for receiving us. Thank you for being so wonderful to us.”
For those who regretfully missed the epic show, there’s always a next time. Dan promised, “This may be our first time here, but I promise you we’ll be here time and time again.”
Special Thanks to MMI Live
Written by Sandra Mae Laureano
Photos by Glenn Michael Tan
Imagine Dragons Smoke + Mirrors: Live in Manila Setlist
Forever Young (Alphaville cover)/ Smoke and Mirrors
I’m So Sorry
Amsterdam + Tiptoe + Demons
On Top of the World
I Bet My Life