Concert: Daughtry in Phoenix
It's been six years since Chris Daughtry's rein on "American Idol" was unceremoniously cut short. He took fourth place yet went on to open for the likes of Bon Jovi and play venues of just about every size.
He went full circle here in the Phoenix area, headlining in the club-sized Marquee Theatre and the Phoenix Suns' arena, US Airways Center. Last night (5/21) he brought his "Break the Spell" tour to the mid-sized, half-full Comerica Theatre. But the spirit of the Daughtry fans that attended the show couldn't be broken.
After standing ovation-worthy performances by singer/songwriter Mike Sanchez and Nashville rockers SafetySuit, Daughtry's set began with a short film, projected on a giant white sheet, of the band members getting into a Dodge Challenger. With an explosion of light and sound, the sheet dropped to reveal Daughtry and his five-piece namesake band, who kicked into "Renegade."
The party kept rolling with the title track from Daughtry's latest CD, the gold-certified album "Break the Spell." Fans punched their fists in the air and snuck up to the front of the stage to take pictures with their cellphones. (There were an abnormal number of signs posted throughout the 5,000-seat venue stating that no flash photography or professional cameras were allowed).
"We finally made it to you," Daughtry told the crowd with his wide grin after performing "Feels Like Tonight." He strapped on his guitar for the first single from "Break the Spell," "Crawling Back to You."
In keeping with his promise to play plenty of new material, he followed up "Losing My Mind" with the similarly named "Outta My Head." While introducing the dance-floor inspired track, Daughtry said he would love to see the accompanying video hit No. 1 on the VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown. But, he relented coyly, he knows it's up to the fans to cast the votes.
The most poignant moment of the night came when he delivered the ballad "What About Now?" under a simple spotlight and with the accompaniment of a piano and his guitar. The song ended with a message on the videoscreen that $1 from each ticket is going to Malaria No More. He also ably stripped away "Home." He strayed from his promise to play mostly new material and trucked through "Over You," "No Surprise" and a surprisingly well-mannered version of Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down a Dream."
Daughtry came across as personable on stage, slapping high fives to the folks in the audience and pointing at other fans. Even though he had backing vocal help, Daughtry sounded pitch-perfect on this run -- singing note-for-note just like the album, down to the "he-yad" in "Outta My Head." Sure he has all the rock star moves, the pouty lip and predictable lyrics/music, but nothing could stop fans from losing their minds.
Daughtry was the crescendo to an evening that brought along SafetySuit and Sanchez. SafetySuit is an incredible band that needs to get more attention. Lead singer Doug Brown told SoundSpike earlier this year that people can think a song is catchy, but if it lacks vulnerability and substance, it'll be gone tomorrow. Brown was the perfect balance of vulnerability and substance during SafetySuit's eight-song set. He ran around the stage manically during upbeat numbers like "Let Go," but delivered the promised vulnerability on the song "These Times." (For the latter track, he donned an acoustic guitar with the letters "TWP," which presumably stood for "they will pass," the conclusion of the chorus to "These Times.")
There was another surprising cover besides the Petty tune: SafetySuit performed its rendition of "Hallelujah," by Leonard Cohen but made famous by Jeff Buckley and just about every "American Idol" contestant. With a little backbeat and a whole lot of energy, the song was the perfect segue from "These Times" and "The Moment."
Sanchez showed off his muscular chops accompanied only by a keyboardist and his own acoustic guitar. He played tracks off his EP, which was available at the merch stand, and wrapped up his set with a fun version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."
22 - San Diego, CA - San Diego Civic Theatre
24 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel/Casino
30 - Los Angeles, CA - Nokia Theatre L.A. Live
31 - San Francisco, CA - Warfield Theatre
2 - Portland, OR - Keller Auditorium
3 - Seattle, WA - Paramount Theatre
5 - Salt Lake City, UAT - Abravanel Hall
7 - Denver, CO - Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre
11 - Grand Prairie, TX - Verizion Theatre at Grand Prairie
13 - Austin, TX - Bass Concert Hall
15 - Biloxi, MS - Hard Rock Live Biloxi
16 - Tuscaloosa, AL - Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre
19 - Fayetteville, AR - Arkansas Music Pavilion
22 - Des Moines, IA - Wells Fargo Arena
23 - North Platte, NE - Wild West Arena (Nebraskaland Days)
11 - Bethlehem, PA - PNC Plaza at Steelstacks (Bethlehem Musikfest)
12 - Atlantic City, NJ - Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa/Event Center
17 - Chesapeake, VA - Chesapeake City Park
1 - Hershey, PA - HersheyPark Stadium