Daughtry has been touring behind their new album, “Break The Spell” and Friday night, April 20 found them stopping by NJ’s own Monmouth University for a tour stop at The MAC. I have never been to this venue before, but I was struck right away about how nice it was. I had heard good things and I knew we were all in for a good night.
Daughtry brought Mike Sanchez and a band I really love, Safetysuit, along for support. I was excited for Safetysuit to play, and the people I talked to around me siad that they were fantastic live. They came out while Daughtry’s set was draped with a white cover, and for 8 songs, they owned every inch of that stage. Opening with “Believe” which is a new track from their album, These Times. They started their set off on a high note.
Hailing from Oklahoma, Safetysuit is made up of Doug Brown on lead vocals and guitar, Dave Garofalo on guitar, Jeremy Henshaw on bass and Tate Cunningham on drums. They had some success a few years back with their Life Left To Go album and their next song, “Something I Said” was from that album. Most of their set was from their new album. “Let Go”, “Staring At It”, “These Times” and the closer, “Stay.” They also included an absolutely beautiful rendition of “Hallelujah”. I absolutely love that song and they did an incredible job. Their next to last song, “The Moment” was the only one on their previous album.
The energy was high for their whole set. Garofalo was all over the place, spinning and jumping. Brown’s vocals were on point and you could feel every emotion coming off of him. He came into the audience more than once, and for the last song he strapped a camera on his head, and literally ran all over the arena. From the first row all the way up to the top. Making everyone feel like a part of the show. They sounded and looked great, and the set felt too short.
Daughtry were up next and you could feel the packed house holding their breath for him. The stage was still covered with a huge white backdrop that showed random pictures of Daughtry and other things while the riffs of “Renegade” started. After 20 seconds or so, the backdrop fell down to reveal the band in full rock mode. Say what you will about Chris Daughtry and his band, but they certainly know how to put on a good rock show. It was clear that it was going to be a fun night.
The stage had a huge red banner across the back with Daughtry written on it, flanked by two smaller white banners with red stars. The drum kit was up on a riser made to look like it was made out of bricks. In dead center was Chris Daughtry flanked by 3 of his band members. “Renegade” is a heavier track of theirs and it got everyone’s energy up right away. Chris Daughtry is known world wide for being on American Idol, but since then he has built up a catalog of really solid songs, and he has become a great front-man for his band. And it does feel like a band. Although it bears his name, Daughtry never once acted like he was the star that he is.
Their next two songs kept the energy high. “Break The Spell” and “Feels Like Tonight.” Backing Chris was Josh Steely on lead guitar, Josh Paul on bass, Brian Craddock on rhythm guitar and Robin Diaz on drums. He also had a 5th member who was pretty much hidden behind the drum riser, but he played keyboards and guitar for the whole show. I would like to say again how nice of a place The MAC is. It certainly doesn’t feel like you’re at a college. The band sounded amazing, and the stage show was on point.
Daughtry said early on that they would be playing a lot of new songs and it was true, they played almost their whole new album. “Crawling Back To You”, “Losing My Mind”, “Outta My Head”, “Crazy” and “Start of Something Good” were next, all new tracks. They were polished like they had been playing them for years though. After that round of new songs, Chris came out and played a couple old ones acoustically. “What About Now” and one of his earliest hits, “Home.” Before “Home” he talked to the audience a bit about his first big record meeting and playing that song for the guys who would eventually sign him. He played one more song by himself, a brand new track called “4 AM”. He wrote it as part of an Esquire song writing contest for charity and it was absolutely gorgeous.
The band joined him on stage for the next song, “Spaceship”. Before this song the banners with the stars dropped down and the whole background became a mass of colors and then shooting stars. It was pretty and fitting, based on the track they played. “Louder Than Ever” was next then a couple of back to back older hits, “Over you” and “No Surprise.” The Tom Petty cover “Runnin’ Down A Dream” was next followed by “September.” The Petty cover was a surprise but they did it justice.
They left and come out for two more songs for their encore. Another cover, “Rebel Yell” was first and it was pretty fantastic.And then they closed out their show with their first hit, “It’s Not Over” which struck me as ironic, since in fact, the show was indeed over after this song.
I left having a new respect for Chris Daughtry and his band. I would say I have been a casual fan of theirs over the years. Some of their songs I liked more than others but overall I don’t know what kind of show I expected them to put on. There aren’t many “rock” bands these days it seems. Rock radio is dead in the NYC area and so many bands coming up scream most of their songs. Chris has great pipes whether he is singing cleanly or a little rougher. Their set was pretty long but everyone kept the energy up the whole time. Combined with the great light show and visuals, it just felt like a great rock show. Not to mention how great Safetysuit was live, this is definitely a great tour to catch if they come to your area.