by Lisa Schreiner
For New Yorkers, Memorial Day weekend generally means a trip out to the east end of Long Island. This year, thousands decided to either stay in Manhattan or head west into the city for the inaugural Side By Side: A Celebration of Service, presented by Northwell Health. The first half of the event, hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro, took place at Rockefeller Center with performances by Boyz II Men, Gavin DeGraw, the U.S. Navy Band, the cast of Jersey Boys and Wicked, Alex Boyé and Rock Star Karaoke.
The evening portion of the night brought a performance by Imagine Dragons at Radio City Music Hall, with Northwell Health providing free tickets to hundreds of service men and women, and their families. Before the show began, U.S. Navy Corpsman Dustin Kirby, an Iraq war veteran who’s jaw was shattered and skull was cracked when a single bullet entered his left cheek while he was deployed in Iraq, took the stage to introduce the Las Vegas band. Kirby underwent 32 surgeries including jaw realignment using 3D technology, provided by Northwell Health doctors.
Opening with “Believer” off of Evolve, Imagine Dragons lit up the legendary performance hall. While most bands will reserve the more well-known hits for later on in a show, Imagine Dragons came out swinging with “It’s Time,” “Whatever It Takes” and “Natural” as follow up songs; and it proved to be a good decision, as it energized the crowd for the remainder of the show.
Singer Dan Reynolds appeared humbled as he addressed the military members in the audience, stating that this was the most important show they’ve ever played; his gratitude unwavering throughout the entire night. Wayne Sermon (lead guitar, backing vocals), Ben McKee (bass, piano, keyboards, backing vocals) and Daniel Platzman (drums, backing vocals) joined Reynolds in exuding their gratitude with a perfect wall of sound. Radio City Music Hall is a more intimate venue, but that didn’t stop the band from performing with all of the glory as a Madison Square Garden show. The highlight of the night came when “Thunder”, likely Imagine Dragons’ biggest hit thus far kicked in, with the crowd of all ages singing along to every lyric.
While the purpose of this show was not lost on anyone, it was a welcomed escape. For one night, we were all able to get lost in music. Imagine Dragons isn’t a band you go and see; they are a band you experience.
Whatever It Takes
I Bet My Life
Every Breath You Take (The Police cover)
I’ll Make It Up To You
Mouth of the River
I Don’t Know Why
On Top of the World