Review: Daughtry hits a home run with Rays fans at Tropicana Field
A half hour before first pitch at Saturday's Rays-Royals game, Chris Daughtry saunters onto the field to sign autographs for fans in the stands.
"Chris!" they shout.
"Oh my god!"
"That is so cool!"
"You should've won American Idol!"
"I'm glad I didn't."
Like Jennifer Hudson and Clay Aiken before him, Chris Daughtry was the Idol loser who became the de facto winner. He was bested by Taylor Hicks and Elliot Yamin (seriously?), but it's Daughtry, not Taylor What's-His-Face, who has the No. 2 album in the country. Last week it was No. 1.
So after the Rays finish spanking the Royals 7 to 1, the sold-out crowd isn't just excited for this post-game concert. They're foaming at the mouth. With the stage in place, the doors are opened and the stampede begins.
Fans storm the field with children and cowbells in tow. Grown women full-on sprint toward the stage, clutching purses under their arms, their heavy breasts flopping with abandon. One girl loses a flip-flop but keeps on running. A man holding a beer (in a cup, mind you) jogs as his overpriced drink sloshes onto the outfield. A young lady hightails it while pushing a guy in a wheelchair. They can't get in fast enough. It's like Hurricane Katrina in reverse.
The man they've come to see is as calm and cool as they are frenzied. Chris, as he likes to be called -- Chris is the individual; Daughtry's the band; it's sort of a Bon Jovi thing -- struts onto the stage in a T-shirt and jeans. He makes easy small talk with the crowd, repeatedly referring to everyone as "Tampa" rather than "St. Petersburg" or at least "Tampa Bay." Not that anyone cares. He could kick things off with "How ya feelin', Mesopotamia?" and still have the house eating out of his hand.
This guy has It. His 13-song set was at times roaring rock, at times sensuous ballad, and his vocals were always on point. His clear, melodic tone requires little theatrics. That's a good thing, too, because pulling off good sound in the cavernous Trop is no easy feat. The simpler and cleaner the vocals, the better.
He played electric guitar on a few songs, and by the end of the set he'd satisfied the crowd by wisely alternating his lesser-known singles with hits: No Surprise, Over You, Feels Like Tonight, It's Not Over, Home.
I should add that I wasn't actually in the audience. I watched the show from the side of the stage, behind a speaker. (I'd been at Tropicana Field all day working on another story, which you can read in tbt* on Friday, Aug. 14.) So it's fair to say that audio-wise, I had the worst seat in the house, and Chris still sounded solid to me.
The only less-than-stellar moments were when he tried to do too much. He jumped up and down with the crowd, which felt a little too contrived and American Idol-like. And on a few songs he employed a megaphone to create an echo effect, which was weird for me. The only prop Chris Daughtry needs, besides the voice, is that bald head of his, and boy, does he know it. Between every song, he wiped his noggin with a white hand towel, managing to stay GQ while his four bandmates grew exceedingly drenched under the hot stage lights. When Chris tossed his sweaty towel into the crowd, I'd never seen grown women go so ballistic over a piece of terry cloth.
Earlier in the day I happened to be standing around when Chris needed a pen, so I loaned him mine. After witnessing the hysterical effect he has on fans, I wonder how much I could get for that pen on eBay?
-- Dalia Colon, tbt*. Photo by Luis Santana.