Review: Imagine Dragons give Abu Dhabi a thunderous performance

Las Vegas band made their debut in the UAE capital with a sold-out show at Etihad Arena

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The Etihad Arena proved a perfect gathering place for thousands of Imagine Dragons fans on a rainy Thursday night.

The Las Vegas pop-rock group packed the 18,000-seat indoor arena to the brim, treating fans to a luscious set list of hits spanning 10 years.

Starting the show bang on time at 9pm, frontman Dan Reynolds, undoubtedly the star attraction of the night, received a resounding welcome as the sold-out arena erupted with applause.

Wearing a black jacket paired with green cargo pants and Vans sneakers, Reynolds began the show with a peppy version of the introspective My Life, from the group's sixth album, Mercury — Act 2, which inspired the current wold tour.

He then smoothly segued into Believer, the massive global hit from the group's third album Evolve, as confetti rained on the fans.

Reynolds's black jacket then came off, revealing a tight white T-shirt, as he launched into one and half hours of music, performing more than 17 tracks, all delivered with such energetic zeal that those in attendance would undoubtedly agree it was worth every dirham they paid.

"We came from halfway across the world to sing with you. And I give my gratitude for being here," Reynolds said to screaming fans.

"May our hearts be connected. May you let go of everything that burdens you. Tonight is a night to celebrate yourself."

The philosophical tone would be a common thread throughout the night, from the contemplative set list, which differed from other Mercury World Tour sets, to the group's latest songs, many of which deal with loss, grief and hope.

There was It's Time, from their 2012 debut album Night Visions, followed by I'm So Sorry from their second album Smoke + Mirrors, and the anthemic Whatever it Takes from their third album Evolve.

Imagine Dragons's refusal to be slotted into a musical genre ensured there was enough variety in tune and tone throughout the night.

A rendition of Thunder, also from Evolve, received one of the biggest reactions of the night — UAE fans undoubtedly feeling the extra love as the song's music video was entirely filmed in Dubai.

There was minimal interaction or breaks as Reynolds had enough stamina to carry the show through to the end, frequently checking in with his bandmates — Wayne Sermon on lead guitar, Ben McKee on bass and Daniel Platzman on drums — to make sure they each had their turn in the spotlight.

And Abu Dhabi gave them back the love in equal measure.

Radioactive, one of Imagine Dragons's biggest hits from their first album, was the penultimate song of the night, before Reynolds closed with another rendition of the opening song My Life.

It's a personal song that speaks of the singer's struggles with addiction, and eventually winning and finding happiness.

It was a perfect note to end a deeply philosophical and wildly entertaining show, a celebration of a group that is still selling out arenas around the world after 10 years in the business.

Updated: January 27, 2023, 7:33 AM