‘It’s not over’ for Daughtry

The artist is thriving 14 years after competing on American Idol, performing a recent sold out show at Parx Casino

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

On stage: In promotion of its new record Cage to Rattle, Daughtry embarked on a tour, which hit Parx Casino’s Xcite Center on Saturday, Nov. 17. SAMANTHA BAMBINO / TIMES PHOTO

It’s been 14 years since viewers experienced one of the biggest upsets in American Idol history. Chris Daughtry, the beautifully bald rocker from North Carolina, was eliminated. Even though he was a frontrunner from his audition, during which he sang a powerful rendition of “The Letter,” he finished fourth, with the bluesy Taylor Hicks taking home the Idol crown.

Though Hicks enjoyed some success after the show, even appearing on Broadway for a brief stint, it’s as though he’s fallen off the face of the earth in recent years. Daughtry, on the other hand, has formed a successful band and released his fifth full-length studio album Cage to Rattle earlier this year.

In promotion of the new record, Daughtry embarked on a tour, which hit Parx Casino’s Xcite Center on Saturday, Nov. 17. The sold-out show drew fans from all demographics — young girls dressed to the nines in heeled boots, older couples seeking a fun night out, and groups of middle-aged mom friends, with the latter filling most of the venue.

A little after 8 p.m., the lights went down and Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” blasted through the sound system, marking the start of the highly anticipated evening. Then, the man of the hour took the stage.

As Daughtry belted out “Just Found Heaven,” a track off Cage to Rattle, it was immediately clear the 38-year-old hasn’t lost any steam over the years. If anything, with his deep cut V-neck shirt, rosary bead necklace and single black-painted nail, Daughtry has only gotten cooler.

He then took things back to 2006 with “Feels Like Tonight” off his debut album Daughtry. A true showman with effortless stage presence, he didn’t stop moving around the stage and interacting with his bandmates and the audience. Despite what was probably an intense cardio workout, Daughtry was in perfect voice, just as he was on every episode of American Idol.

Next on the setlist was the Baptized track “Battleships,” which Daughtry told the crowd “is about fighting.” As he sang the powerful lyrics, “I don’t wanna fight this war, bullets coming off our lips, but we stick to our guns and we love like battleships,” the audience scream-sang every word back to him, drinks raised in the air.

Before diving into “Backbone,” another track off Cage to Rattle, Daughtry hyped up the crowd, stating that the song is for anyone struggling.

“We’re all going through hard times. Nobody’s impervious to pain,” Daughtry yelled. “We gotta have some backbone!”

He kept things current with “Deep End” before backtracking again to Daughtry, which he said fans still refer to as “the good album.” At this point in the show, he brought the energy down a notch, singing the chilling “Breakdown” followed by a stunning acoustic version of “Life After You,” off the 2009 album Leave This Town.

A standout during this portion was Daughtry’s bassist Josh Paul, whose solo (and slew of neck and arm tattoos) received screams of appreciation from quite a few of the ladies.

Daughtry then took a moment to get sentimental about his wife, Deanna, much to the disappointment of most females in the audience. Daughtry explained how their marriage was built on love, support and trust, which formed the basis of “As You Are,” the only song the two wrote together.

“It’s how we managed to last 18 years,” he said. “I was on the road and she still didn’t divorce me.”

The often-overlooked sarcasm of Daughtry showed its face as he eased the crowd into the next song, the one he’ll be best known for until his dying day. Of course, we’re talking about “Home,” which he admitted gets tiring to perform after a while. To make it more interesting, he encouraged the crowd to belt out the lyrics, even if they weren’t the correct ones.

The concert moved along with the anthemic “White Flag,” the 2006 hit “It’s Not Over” and the brand new track “Stuff of Legends.” If the energy of anyone in the crowd was flagging at this point, they were re energized and on their feet when Daughtry introduced the angsty breakup song “Over You,” which he turned into a mini sing-a-long.

After a brief break (which included several audience members screaming for Paul rather than Daughtry), the band returned for an encore. The show wrapped up with “Waiting for Superman,” “September” and a pleasant surprise, “Purple Rain” by Prince. ••

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com