Six years after his fourth-place finish in “American Idol,” Chris Daughtry isn’t the live draw he used to be, but he remains a hero among a large group of loyal fans.
Friday night, his band Daughtry headlined a show at the Midland theater. About 1,700 people showed up, most of them women, some of them families of three or four carrying signs of love and appreciation.
Daughtry has now run the venue lap in Kansas City: from the VooDoo Lounge to Sandstone Amphitheater to Sprint Center — opening for Bon Jovi in 2008 and then headlining in 2010 — to the Midland. His headlining show at Sprint Center drew about 6,000 fans.
His recordings continue to do well, however. His latest, “Break the Spell,” has gone gold since its release six months ago. His record sales among three albums are now approaching 6 million copies.
He and his five-piece band played several of those new ones during a set that lasted slightly longer than 90 minutes and comprised a dozen and a half songs, including two covers. Nine of the songs were off the new album and most were greeted with as much enthusiasm as the older ones. Frankly, it was hard to tell the difference between the two.
The band sticks to a clear formula, one that draws from the modern-rock well but also from the adult/alternative pool and then lacquered with some light grunge. It’s all middle-of-the-road and mainstream, but crafted and polished to a sheen, and it makes for ideal radio fare: stout anthems with a steady rock groove, fetching melodies and sing-along choruses. If arranged differently, they could easily become Top 40 pop or country hits, which was evident during the solo/acoustic portion of the show.
Lyrics are earnest and introspective and often about relationships in bloom, in danger or in decline and the subsequent effects on the heart: love, pain, anxiety, regret and everything in between. Daughtry’s voice and manner are clearly influenced by the post-grunge era, but at times Daughtry the band comes off as Matchbox Twenty with bigger muscles, more tattoos and louder, heavier guitars. His fine-tuned band has its routines down pat: Play the songs the way they were recorded and throw in some standard rock-star poses and moves.
The crowd up front greeted it all with plenty of enthusiasm, despite the below-average acoustics in the Midland. As Daughtry told a story about meeting Clive Davis for the first time, one woman on the floor squealed for more than 30 seconds. He then played a solo/acoustic version of “Home.” He filled the second half of the show with older numbers — “What About Now,” “Over You,” “No Surprise” — and two covers: a decent version of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and then a by-the-numbers version of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.”
He ended with one of his earliest hits, the anthem “It’s Not Over,” a song about a last-ditch attempt to keep a love alive. I suppose you could say the same about his stardom in the music world. We’ll see where he is the next time he comes to town.