By any measure, Chris Daughtry should’ve been the happiest person in the El Rey Theater Thursday night. The debut album by last season’s fourth-place American Idol finalist, “Daughtry” (RCA/19), is one of the few sales success stories the music industry can point to lately (the platinum disc has far outstripped the sales of “Idol” winner Taylor Hicks), and his national club tour is selling out just about every date. Pretty heady territory for a guy who, a little over a year ago, was fronting a Christian rock band that numbers among its accomplishments winning the Hardcore Battle of the Bands and making it to the semi-finals of the Zippo Hot Tour. So why did he stalk the stage Thursday night in such a dour manner, looking like a guy who just won the lottery and all he can think about are his tax liabilities?
Now, dissatisfaction and a certain amount of post-adolescent frustration are coin of the realm among the thrashy modern hard rock bands that are Daughtry’s most obvious influences, but he just seemed bored, as if the short, 50-minute concert was an imposition, keeping him from more pressing matters. His interaction with the aud — whose early enthusiasm quickly waned — was clichéd and perfunctory, even down to a mumbled dedication of “Home” to “the troops.”
He’s got a good stentorian voice, a bellow that owes as much to Bono as it does to Fuel’s Brett Scallions, but matches neither in emotional impact. It can drive home the evening’s best tune, the anthemic “It’s Not Over,” but was lost and vastly overmatched on an ill-advised cover of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”
His four-piece band was efficient and well-mannered and, like their singer, can’t be bothered to even muster up the faux rebellion of Nickelback or Incubus; they hit their marks, but made no impression,
They weren’t helped by the flat sound mix, which was decidedly lacking in volume and muffled what little energy was generated on stage. Perhaps the intent was to replicate the experience of hearing Daughtry on television.