The song was like the ceremonial milk chug by the winner of the Indy 500, a wholesome victory celebration.
Its truths were self-evident, painted across the faces of the band performing it with all the subtlety of Kabuki make up.
“I’m on top of the world, ’ay / Waiting on this for a while now / Paying my dues to the dirt / I’ve been waiting to smile,” various members of Imagine Dragons harmonized during “On Top of the World,” their wait clearly, demonstrably over.
The song began with guitarist Wayne Sermon whistling into the mic and ended with frontman Dan Reynolds swinging high above the crowd on a rope while still singing.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” Reynolds said before going all Tarzan at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday. “Only in Vegas.”
And so the evening proceeded, mostly as a homecoming celebration for the city’s latest breakout band.
Imagine Dragons wear their burgeoning status comfortably, like a pair of worn-in jeans.
On their first headlining tour, with Vegas being its second date, they seemed more at home on a larger stage than they did back when they were playing smaller local clubs like Beauty Bar and The Bunkhouse.
They never truly fit in at those spots, their supernatant sound way more suited for mainstream radio than indie rock cliques.
That their full-length debut, “Night Visions,” was recently certified gold four months after its release seemed almost like a given, even for the band members themselves.
“I get a little bit bigger, but then I’ll admit / I’m just the same as I was / Now don’t you understand / That I’m never changing who I am,” Reynolds sang during “It’s Time,” Imagine Dragons’ first hit, testifying to how success won’t alter his perspective prior to realizing said success to begin with.
Now, as the band is fulfilling its ambitions , there’s an ease about them, a confidence that comes from achieving what they all but said they would.
And so this show felt like a release of years of self-applied pressure, jubilance served up as readily, and efficiently, as the bartenders poured beer.
Reynolds, a human exclamation point, flayed his arms out in a triumphant pose before the first song even kicked in. He danced in circles across the stage though never strayed too far from a series of drums — including a massive timpani-sized thing — which he hammered away at throughout the night.
Several of his bandmates followed suit, adding a tidal wave of percussion that frothed all over songs like “Hear Me” and “Cha-Ching (‘Til We Grow Older),” the later of which culminated in a blustery jam, with peels of guitar arcing wildly over the rumbling bottom end, which made the room vibrate as if a train was roaring by.
In terms of physical comportment, these dudes are all about grand gestures — lots of fists and mic stands held high in the air and impassioned headbanging — and their songs follow suit.
With its sonar-ping synth line and exultant chorus, “Tiptoe” came on like a battle cry, while trilling keys and a rock god guitar solo powered “Radioactive” into an anthem of coming into one’s own.
A sense of deliberate, steady craftsmanship was palpable in the Imagine Dragons’ repertoire throughout the show.
Their songs seemed scientifically engineered to either soothe or elate, depending on the mood.
As such, this is not a band that paints outside the lines, preferring instead to try and master the brushstrokes within them.
This means treading a tightrope between the fresh and the familiar, a precarious balancing act that demands sure footing.
So far, Imagine Dragons have managed to achieve equilibrium between the two, though they continue to eye bigger things.
“I’ve got a lot that’s on my mind,” Reynolds sang on “Hear Me.”
“I cannot breathe,” he continued, as if winded from chasing down so many dreams.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0476.