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For one local fan, Imagine Dragons’ rise was obvious

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Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds in his element.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna

I’m a selfish music lover. I’m not just loyal; I take ownership of the bands, songs and concert memories I hold dear.

A former Weekly colleague introduced me to Imagine Dragons in her 2009 article, “Fast-rising Dragons,” and I had my Babe Ruth moment the first time I saw them, at Beauty Bar. I called it: They would be the next big band out of Las Vegas. Not that their loyal fans—the “fire breathers,” they called themselves—couldn’t feel it, too. But I still felt like I’d discovered something all my own.

The Dragons played the same 10 or so originals at their early shows, so I grew comfortable with them like a worn-in pair of jeans. At one unannounced Hennessey’s gig, I called out for one song they’d stopped performing, “I Need a Minute.” Singer Dan Reynolds answered, “For you, Allison, we will.” I was stoked he knew my name.

By the time the band signed its deal with Interscope in November 2011, its sound and lineup had changed significantly. The songs on debut album Night Visions sounded too radio-friendly to me at first, and when I caught their October stop at Hard Rock Cafe, their passion felt diminished. For the first time, I wondered: Did I still love my favorite local band?

After seeing Saturday’s sold-out concert at the Joint, I know that I do. Watching Reynolds swing over the crowd on a rope during “On Top of the World,” I realize what I’ve always loved most about the Dragons is the way their intense emotional delivery makes me feel—then and now. They’ve gone from the band up the block to legitimate rock stars, but they still get me excited in a way no other act can.

And those early songs I loved so much? By comparison they sound a bit juvenile, early tracks from a group of musicians who’ve come so far. Not that I’ll ever stop needing “I Need a Minute,” even if Imagine Dragons doesn’t anymore.

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