A Updated

Daughtry is a real band, but it is the man himself who is always the main focus

Manchester : Academy - 25th March 2023

The last time Daughtry were in the UK (October 2018), it was during the promotional run for the annoyingly insipid ‘Cage To Rattle’ album. Chris (Daughtry) had been promising for many years that a return to the guitar-driven debut was something he wanted to see and 2021’s ‘Dearly Beloved’ went some way to realising that promise. Label restraints no longer shackled the creative mantra and the band sounded rejuvenated. Daughtry have always had a healthy UK fan base, so it was no surprise to see this tour sell out in days.

At 9pm exactly the band took to the stage, receiving a very healthy reception in the process from the packed crowd. ‘Desperation’ got things under way. It is also the opening track on the ‘Dearly Beloved’ album and I have always thought it to be more of a mid-album number, as it lacks a full-throttle intensity. It is more of a brooding mid-tempo pot-boiler, but the atmospherics actually lent themselves well to the start of the set. ‘World On Fire’ and ‘Changes Are Coming’ upped the tempo considerably and raised the temperature levels in the room in the process. The ‘Dearly Beloved’ title track provided something of a respite, but the pace picked up again with ‘Evil’.

It was clear that the re-discovered sound was the main focus, so when Chris strapped on an acoustic guitar it was for the first older song of the night. The acoustic arrangement for ‘Waiting For Superman’ was a particular highlight and it also meant that the vocals could be heard clearly for the first time. Up to that point the guitars and vocals struggled to permeate the bass heavy rumble that is a constant issue in the Manchester Academy. ‘The Victim’, ‘Lioness’ and ‘Heavy Is The Crown’ saw a return to the new album, but when fan favourite ‘It’s Not Over’ brought the set to a close after just ten songs it was something of a disappointment.

Of course, the band returned and we were treated to a well-thought acoustic rendition of ‘Home’ and the laid-back ‘September’, giving the crowd a major opportunity to flex their own vocal chords. The band disappeared again, before returning once more. The biggest roar of the night then greeted the cover of Journey’s ‘Separate Ways’ (which was released recently as a duet with Lzzy Hale) and then another new song, ‘Asylum’, brought things to a close properly. So, a fourteen song set, with nine taken from the new album and, interestingly, nothing from ‘Cage To Rattle’.

Daughtry is a real band, but it is the man himself who is always the main focus. I could have done with more interaction with the crowd and that has been the case each time I have seen them. The lighting was poor again (another issue with all the Manchester venues it seems), meaning everyone was lost in the shadows for the most part, with Chris finding the spotlights at the front occasionally. Die-hard Daughtry fans seemed to be completely blown away by the performance, but several factors (certainly not the set-list) left me with mixed feelings. Maybe I need to try catching the band at a different venue the next time they are in the UK.

Dave Bott

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