Imagine Dragons needs a Las Vegas song.
Not a song that is sort of ambiguously about their history in Las Vegas. “It’s Time” is that sort of song. But a song that describes the city in the same way The Beatles colorfully recounted their youth in “Penny Lane.”
This is a mere opinion. But we talked of this type of song before Thursday night’s Tyler Robinson Foundation Gala at the Four Seasons.
In its second year, the charity is named for a young fan who befriended the band — especially via text with frontman Dan Reynolds — who died of a brain tumor in March 2013 at age 17. The band has named its childhood cancer support and treatment organization for Robinson, and Thursday’s was the second gala raising money and awareness for the cause.
Before the event, we talked of Las Vegas and the band’s upcoming plans.
“I thought of you guys when I was at iHeartRadio at MGM Grand over the weekend,” I started. “The Killers played ‘Viva Las Vegas’ with four showgirls from ‘Jubilee.’“
“Oh, nice,” Reynolds said. “I know they do that song. It’s great.”
“I thought it would be great for you guys to cover that song,” I continued because I thought it would be great for the guys to cover that song. “Have you ever?”
“No, but I think we need to, right?” Reynolds said. “But we can’t do it now that The Killers have done it? At least we can’t do it in the same way.”
“We’ve got to be original,” guitarist Wayne Sermon said.
“Maybe we’ll do ‘Home Means Nevada,’“ Reynolds offered, referring to the Nevada state song.
“The Killers do that one, too,” Sermon said.
“Maybe ‘Leaving Las Vegas,’ by Sheryl Crow?” said bassist Ben McKee, who was dressed in a baby-blue tux as Jeff Daniels’ Harry Dunne character in “Dumb and Dumber” (drummer Daniel Platzman was in orange as the Jim Carrey/Lloyd Christmas sidekick from the film).
“We have to get a whole list of them together,” Reynolds said.
“We have to make up our own song,” Sermon said.
That is the answer. “We should do that,” Reynolds said. “We have ‘It’s Time,’ which is about Vegas, but we need a song that’s just called ‘Vegas.’“
“Imagine Vegas,” McKee added.
“If we do it, now you know where it started,” Reynolds said. “Here, tonight. We’ve got it down.”
The event raised more than $600,000, counting the sales of table seating and the live and silent auction. More than 400 supporters were in attendance.
Until the “Vegas” concept reaches the lyrical stage, Imagine Dragons continue to promote their “Smoke + Mirrors” album with an upcoming tour of Europe. Thursday’s event featured the band in an acoustic set, playing for about 300 guests including guest of honor Elaine Wynn, who said just before the program that Imagine Dragons’ TRF charity “is a wonderful organization that has grown so much in just a couple of years.”
Rachel Smith of Fox 5’s “More” show was the host, and Jason Hewlett was the MC. The band performed a 30-minute set, “as raw as you’ll ever see Imagine Dragons,” as Reynolds said, playing “I Bet My Life,” “Amsterdam” and “Radioactive,” but not “Freebird,” which was inevitably shouted from the audience.
Reynolds’ voice cracked as he described his friendship with Reynolds, whose family was in attendance (his brother, Jesse, recently embarked on a several-week bicycle tour from Canada to Mexico to raise support for TRF).
“I didn’t know him that long, but he touched me very deeply,” Reynolds said. Robinson lived in Utah and was a huge music fan and particularly fond of Imagine Dragons. The band learned of this through a Facebook message from Jesse to Reynolds and at a show at a Provo club called Velour dedicated the song “It’s Time” to Robinson, who stood above the crowd on his brother’s shoulders during the show.
Honored during the evening by band manager and TRF Chairman Mac Reynolds were the organization’s Humanitarian Award winners: Hamish Dodds of Hard Rock International; Mikaela Shiffrin, U.S. Ski Team alpine racer and three-time World Slalom champion; Jonathan Agin, executive director of Max Cure Foundation; and Lisa Hill, accepting for her daughter Lauren Hill, basketball standout at Mount St. Joseph, who hit the first and last basket of her final game against Hiram College. She died of a brain tumor in April.
The final Humanitarian Award honor went to Geoffrey Alintoff, a 13-year-old kid who nearly stole the night from the band itself. A lover of music and science and math wiz, Alintoff has raised more than $20,000 for TRF in what began as a bar-mitzvah project, and continues to work on behalf of the I.D. foundation.
“Children are not supposed to be fighting for their lives!” he called from the podium to a standing ovation. Hewlett said in following the speech, “I think what this presidential race is missing is Geoffrey Alintoff.”
Why not? He can give a great speech. He can raise money. And, thanks to an inspiration from Imagine Dragons and the late Tyler Robinson, his heart is in the right place.