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Imagine Dragons remain passionate voice for Las Vegas

Imagine Dragons are rock headliners around the world, and just finished off a 400-show international spree. But in Las Vegas, the band serves as a civic spokesman.

Once more, front man Dan Reynolds talked of his affection for his hometown during Imagine Dragons’ thunderous performance Saturday during the iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena. He opened with the recollections of Oct. 1, when he and his band mates began making frenetic calls in the early morning hours after hearing of the developing tragedy at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Strip.

“I can tell you the city means everything to me. We try every day to be honorable to it, to represent it in a way that is true to the Vegas that we love,” Reynolds said from the stage as applause rose from the crowd. Reynolds offered a toast to the first responders and the citizens of Las Vegas.

“We’ve rallied together, with the Golden Knights — when I was kid, we didn’t seem like we had something to connect us, but we’ve had a lot that’s connected us in the last year,” Reynolds continued. “Event though I’ve been overseas, we’ve come home to the Las Vegas that I know and love. I love this city. To all the families and friends who have suffered, we love you. Vegas strong!”

Imagine Dragons helped headline an all-star variety show, along with the Killers, at T-Mobile on Dec. 1. The band is accustomed to playing alongside superstar acts. Those who preceded them Saturday included Justin Timberlake, Shawn Mendes, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The DJ Logic closed the show, and Lil Jon performed between sets to keep the buzz alive.

Timberlake displayed the stage innovation that keeps his name in play for a Strip residency, blowing out “Suit & Tie” and “Filthy” from his “Man of the Woods” release. He brought Mendes out as an unbilled guest for a warm, acoustic spin of “What Goes Around.”

Underwood returned to the venue where she inadvertently created a news boomlet on Twitter, offering to sing the national anthem prior to a Golden Knights NHL playoff game. She and ex-Nashville Predators star Mike Fisher are expecting their second child, and said after “Last Name,” “the baby was kicking during that one.”

Underwood also glanced at the stage and said, “I just looked down at my set list, and according to that, I’m singing ‘SexyBack’ next.” A shot of the stage showed that Timberlake left behind some paperwork.

Clarkson, like Underwood an “American Idol” champ, performed a wonderful version of “Respect,” with a photo montage of Aretha Franklin playing in the background. Few singers in her generation would roll with that song in a major festival, but it worked.

As for the enduring southern-rock juggernaut Lynyrd Skynyrd, as I noted during the show on my Twitter feed, the great thing about a Skynyrd show is when someone from the crowd shouts, “Free Bird!” they play it. Vocalist Johnny Van Zant led into the band’s song of the night with, “As my brother Ronnie said, ‘What song do you want to hear next?’ ” He then sang in duet with a video of his late brother performing the power ballad.

On many nights, Skynyrd appearing on the same bill with Timberlake, Lil Jon and Logic would make absolutely no sense. But in Las Vegas, iHeartMusic has build a tent that welcomes everyone. Saturday, Imagine Dragons were the suitable hosts.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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