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Imagine Dragons spotlight mental health during their first SA show in Cape Town

Imagine Dragons perform at the DHL Cape Town Stadium. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Imagine Dragons perform at the DHL Cape Town Stadium. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 2, 2023


Cape Town – Even the most seasoned concert-goer could not have prepared for or anticipated the spectacle multi-platinum award-winning band Imagine Dragons presented to fans at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday evening.

The concert formed part of the band’s Mercury World Tour, a fourth for the band, which started in February 2022 and will run until September 2023.

This was the first time the band had performed in South Africa, with another show scheduled for Saturday at the Johannesburg FNB Stadium.

The concert is in support of the band’s fifth and sixth studio albums Mercury – Acts 1 released in 2021 and 2 released the following year.

Formed in 2009, the band comprises lead vocalist Dan Reynolds, guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee and drummer Daniel Platzman.

Hours before the self-described “genre-less” band could take to the stage, all roads seemed to lead to the same venue, as thousands of fans made their way to the stadium.

The stadium was nearly filled to capacity before the band took to the stage at 9pm.

Opening for Imagine Dragons was platinum-selling artist, singer-songwriter, guitarist and pianist Jesse Clegg.

Reynolds opened up about his years-long struggle with depression, with cheers erupting when he advocated for seeking professional help to those privileged enough to have access to it.

Between tracks, narrated videos spoke on loss, grief, separation, mental distress, and how there was some light, some hope, in the midst of all the overwhelm.

“I didn’t know what was the reason to live and I went to therapy for many years and therapy was the best thing I ever did.

“So I promised myself to tell as many people as I can in the world if ever you feel alone in your depression, anxiety, or contemplating the meaning of life, it can be quite overwhelming … Don’t do it alone.

“Don't hold it in to yourself. Speak to a friend, speak to your family, and if it's available to you, go to therapy,” Reynolds said.

“It does not make you weak, it does not make you a problem. Therapy is incredibly strong and wise, preparing yourself for a future. We need each other.

“Life is incredibly overwhelming. Stay alive, stay with us. Your life is always worth living, never take it from us. We need you.”

Huge bursts of confetti paper and smoke erupted during performances, indicating no small budget had been allocated for the show.

Giant balloons were released to the crowds, as they energetically leapt to pass them on and see them travel through the stadium.

While the band delivered an amazing performance, there were concert-goers in the general standing area who raised issues about sound quality.

Some voiced frustration at visibly seeing Reynolds sing, but being unable to hear him above the band.

"The concert was a wonderful vibrant experience with so much audience and artist participation. There were fireworks, streamers and balloons, it was quite magical,“ said attendee, Tamlyn Hendricks.

“However, the experience was slightly dampened by the fact that that the sound engineering was lacking. The lead singer was inaudible at moments through no fault of his own as it was clear he was belting into the microphone."

To draw the show to a close, concert-goers were treated to a fireworks display.

(additional reporting by Theolin Tembo)