By Gian Ellis-Gannell
Going into the Imagine Dragons Aus/NZ Evolve Tour show in Sydney, Dan Reynolds, Lead singer of the band, had a disclaimer: Leave Everything at the door.
Not physically of course; although security was pretty tight.
Safely equipped with my messenger bag coated in various pins and under a 30cmx30cm cube in size, I contemplated this message. After a heart thumping opening set, it became apparent what he was talking about. There were no political agendas or messages of hate that night, as many artists have begun to favour (See: Kanye West, Sacramento 2016). The only message he spread was “Peace, Love and Equality”. This recurring theme made the night stand out as more than a setlist of Billboard 100 songs. Each song had a meaning, and here was an example of a Band actively using their platform for good.
The band didn’t just speak their minds, talking at the crowd, they talked to the crowd, with the crowd. And they preached. Dan Reynolds can be quoted as saying “I want to give you even just an inkling of happiness (tonight)” “This is all I want, leave everything else at the door”.
It's something that a lot of artists forget; music is pure, and should only bring people together. If the platform must be used for anything else but enjoyment; it should at least be for the greater good, not just personal beliefs. Artists today have so much power, reaching millions if not billions of ears across the globe. The power is not always acknowledged, but it is always there. Every artist with an audience has an opportunity to do good in the world. And that’s more than just dedicating a song to LGBT fans. Yes, it promotes inclusivity, but how about asking people to donate to Lifeline? Or LGBT support organisations such as Qlife. There is a great deal of missed opportunity.
Before Imagine Dragons performed each song, they spoke about where it came from.
The Band centred the night around youth and, not afraid to cover songs, performed a heartbreaking rendition of ‘Forever Young’ as a tribute to the victims of yet another school shooting in Santa Fe. Imagine Dragons praised strict gun laws and encouraged others to be more careful with firearms; to make a change.
‘Demons’, one of Imagine Dragons most well-known songs, was based on Reynolds’ struggle with Depression and the stigma surrounding it. And so, when the instrumental began to play, he acknowledged how hard it can be to get help and told all the people struggling to never give up hope. “Too many youths die from depression, mental health issues; its stigmatized, you think somethings wrong with you.” He mentioned counselling, lifeline, and hopefully supported a member of the audience that night.
Closing the night with ‘Walking the Wire’ a song about being daring and courageous, and then crowd favourite ‘Radioactive’, the band preached their message of ‘Peace, Love and Equality’ and wished everyone a great night, because “Above all…. We’re alive.”