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Live Review: Daughtry at the Nokia Theatre

May 4, 2010 | 12:12 pm

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Chris Daughtry began his encore Monday night at the Nokia Theatre by announcing, “We’re gonna take you to the '80s for a second.” He was referring, of course, to the 1980s, provenance of “Rebel Yell,” the Billy Idol hit Daughtry and his bandmates then performed to the vocal delight of the many denim-clad mom types filling out the capacity crowd.

Excepting a handful of youngsters accompanied by parents (or were they parents accompanied by youngsters?), this was an audience happy to indulge a star’s flash of musical nostalgia.

In truth, though, Daughtry — a finalist from the fifth season of “American Idol” who’s gone on to release a pair of top-selling hard-rock albums — spent far more than a second of Monday’s 90-minute show in the '80s: Earlier, he played an excellent version of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” that with its rootsy guitar and booming drums actually sounded like an excellent version of “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi, with whom Daughtry toured in 2008.

And then there were the originals from the singer’s self-titled 2006 debut — tightly crafted fist-pumpers such as “It’s Not Over,” “Feels Like Tonight” and “Over You,” all of which lived up to the pop-metal gold standard once set by the likes of Warrant, Poison and Mötley Crüe.

Daughtry Listening to Daughtry flex his honeyed He-Man growl — and watching him prowl the Nokia stage with his bald head and boot-cut jeans — you could envision a world in which Nirvana had never triggered rock’s early-’90s conversion to thorny art-school sensitivity.

Unfortunately, the trashy thrill of that alternate reality ran cold when Daughtry played material from last year’s “Leave This Town,” a grimmer, more aggressive effort in which the songwriting is often indistinguishable from that of Shinedown, Theory of a Deadman and any number of the other glum hard-rock acts who have emerged in Nickelback’s wake.

In songs like “Learn My Lesson” and “Every Time You Turn Around,” the band’s muscular stomp lacked flavor and character; it was serving up meat and potatoes with a goal of satisfaction, not delectation.

Even in those cuts, Daughtry’s impressively nimble vocals were worth hearing: He’s the rare rock singer for whom engaging in an instrumental duel with his guitarist — as Daughtry did through a bullhorn during “Ghost of Me” — is a good idea. His singing also partially redeemed “Long Way,” a dull ballad he said he’d cowritten with Jason Wade of Lifehouse, who opened Monday’s show.

Wade reappeared near the end of the concert for a duet with Daughtry on a medley of the latter’s “Home” and “You and Me,” Lifehouse’s appealingly wimpy wedding-band staple. The bromance was sweet but short-lived: As soon as the final chord rang out on Daughtry’s acoustic guitar, bassist Josh Paul revved up something more rugged — and more forgettable.

-- Mikael Wood

Top photo: Chris Daughtry (right) with Josh Steely at the Nokia Theatre. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.

Bottom photo: Chris Daughtry. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times


 


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