Chris Daughtry spoke to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio from deepest Virginia in August 2014. In this edit he chats about American Idol and his album releases. (6:07)
Six months on from a pair of shows at Shepherds Bush Empire, Chris Daughtry and his band made good on their promise to return to the UK sooner than anyone expected, and the 4000 capacity historic Roundhouse, packed with primarily a younger fan base, was full to capacity.
Even in that short space of time there had been changes to the stage show with a new drummer, Jamal Moore, and the drum kit that used to sit centre stage with the band’s logo shunted out to the right to make way for a video backdrop.
Support came from a young Irish band the Whereabouts, who with their mop tops, suits and punchy R n B could have been stuck in a 1964 timewarp of the early Stones, Yardbirds and the Animals. Despite the retro nature of their performance, right down to the singer playing some blues harp on ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’, their vitality suggested they could be a band to watch.
In the interval, rather than the standard AC/DC between set music, we were ‘treated’ to half an hour of hip hop with brief samples of rock classics, which was more akin to being tortured in a prisoner of war camp than waiting for a gig to start.
Moreover as Daughtry opened with the title track from current album Baptized and ‘Feels Like Tonight’, the sound remained at ear splitting levels and, as so many bands do these days, seemed to be being ‘enhanced’ by sampled beats.
Once I became attuned to it, I enjoyed the first album classics ‘Over You’ and ‘It’s Not Over’, with Chris working the crowd as the front reached out to touch him while ‘Renegade’ showed that, in spite of the poppier direction they are taking, the band still have it in them to rock aggressively and give contemporaries like Shinedown a run for their money.
Chris appears more than ever to be the sole focus with his band reduced to able sidemen, but is one of the great rock frontmen, radiating an easy charm. As you might expect from someone who came to prominence via American Idol his expressive voice is what ensures their material stands out, and this was best showcased during a mid-song interlude in which he was accompanied only by acoustic guitar, and keyboardist and backing vocalist Elvio Fernandez.
After a stripped back ‘Witness’ from the current album, he did what few others could and emulate Chris Isaak on a cover of ‘Wicked Game’, before playing ‘Start Of Something Good’, dedicated to a couple who used their meet and greet with him to propose to each other!
The newer material is forming an ever greater part of the set, and, using the latest pop tricks, there were earworm singalong refrains to the likes of ‘I’ll Fight’ and ‘Battleships’, with Chris humorously stating that people’s car passengers would be driven crazy on the way home by the ‘boom boom-boom-boom’ chorus of the latter.
The main set ended with the anthemic, mid-tempo ‘September’ and ‘Home’, both to a video backdrop and the type of songs that will be played as the background to TV montages for years to come.
First encore ‘Waiting for Superman’ is arguably the bona fide classic off the new album and people were singing along, while the bizarre foghorn style keyboard on the chorus was stunningly high in the mix. Sadly ‘What About Now’ seemed to have been dropped from the set, so the last song was ‘Long Live Rock n Roll’.
For me this epitomised the paradox – the song namechecks and celebrates the greats – from Joplin and The Stones to Bon Jovi and Van Halen, yet is delivered in a jaunty pop style with the only guitars acoustic ones. Nevertheless the way the Roundhouse was turned into a mass camp fire singalong suggested that my scepticism was a minority verdict.
On a personal level, I regret that Chris Daughtry is moving away from his harder rocking roots into a broader pop sound. But he and his eponymous band still put on an entertaining, arena-worthy show and on this evidence UK crowds are increasingly lapping it up.
Review and Photos by Andy Nathan
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