Proving that it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, even the music destroying reality TV shows can throw up genuine stars from time to time. One such was American Idol contestant Chris Daughtry, who burst onto the scene a decade ago with a multi platinum album.
He didn’t actually win the godforsaken show, but it is a fair bet that if he had, he would be more likely to be a here today, gone tomorrow chewed up music industry pawn than today’s respected artist, with four albums under his band’s belt and a fifth on the way.
Indeed the eponymous band have just marked their first decade with a greatest hits collection, which as Chris joked used to be reserved for the Bon Jovis and Eagles of this world, and it was to promote this that they returned to these shores only 18 months after playing The Roundhouse.
There was a decent crowd at one of London’s great venues and of a mix of ages, though as a long time attender of classic rock gigs here it was discombobulating to arrive and see just how empty the foyer bars were compared to usual.
To be frank it took a while for the show to gel: new song, the dance-flavoured ‘Go Down’ is not my favourite and the ridiculously loud beats made me feel as if I was in the Ministry of Sound, and ‘Outta My Head’ provided more of the same, while the first of the bona fide classics from the debut in ‘Feels Like Tonight’ was spoiled by the fact Chris’s vocal was almost inaudible.
However things picked up when, after Chris said ‘this is about a guy in a cape’, ‘Waiting For Superman’ – one of the best tracks from the pop-influenced last album ‘Baptized’ which thankfully was now less prominent in the set – was punctuated by the crowd singing along.
They then really hit their stride as Chris, accompanied by only keyboardist Elvio Fernandez and guitarist Brian Craddock, delivered a double of ‘Tennessee Line’ and ‘Life After You’ in a countrified style that was a reminder of how they can operate across several musical genres, rather than be stereotyped as faceless post-grungers.
With his lean frame and earnest voice, Chris is devoid of gimmicks and yet seems to have that undefinable rock star charisma, certainly judging by the screams from people hanging on his every word. His band are solid if rather anonymous, looking as if they could be a bunch of good old boys unwinding over beers and pool in a North Carolina bar.
A cover of ‘In The Air Tonight’ compared favourably to the original, not least with the atmospheric drumming of Brandon Maclin who was a delight to watch throughout with his joyful expressions. After Chris promising that the new album would rock again, which certainly brought a big cheer from me, ‘Renegade’ was a reminder of their heavier roots.
However , it is the debut album hits that still got the best reception, such as the arm waving ‘What About Now’, and a 1-2 punch of ‘Its Not Over’ and ‘Over You’ had everyone singing along.
He closed with ‘Long Live Rock n Roll’, with the crowd clapping along and band moving about the stage enjoying themselves. I still find it ironic though that a song that celebrates the greats of rock and metal is delivered in such a jaunty, acoustically driven form more suited to a Boy Scout campfire sing-along.
With the main set lasting a bare hour and 5 minutes there was plenty of scope for encores, starting with one of the new songs ‘Torches’ which veered too close to Coldplay and Snow Patrol territory for my own tastes.
However, after an anecdote Chris about his post-Idol rise to fame, I found myself roaring along to the anthemic ‘Home’, and ‘September’ was further proof of his ability to write introspective, thoughtful but still catchy songs.
I suspected that was it but there was a surprise to come in a very authentic cover of ‘Purple Rain’. Indeed towards the end Chris left the stage the spotlight fell on guitarist Josh Sheely, who had previously played a rather low key role, to distinguish himself with a superb version of the solo.
It was a telling reminder that in a year when we have already lost some legendary musical superstars, we need a new generation to carry the torch, and Daughtry have the charisma and the songs to be an arena band for a long time to come, and hopefully long after the reality TV troupe has been and gone.
Review by Andy Nathan
Photos by Paul Clampin
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