CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rock 'n' roll arrived in big, bombastic style at the Clay Center Wednesday night with Chris Daughtry. The 32-year-old singer/songwriter delivered a crowd-pleasing show that was a reward for the rock 'n' roll faithful who've followed him all the way since his days on "American Idol" six years ago.Turnout for the performance was good, though it clearly wasn't a sellout. The show began at 7:30 with significant gaps in the seats to begin, but many of them filled in as the evening rolled forward and the opening acts finished.A lot of diehard fans came out to this show and Daughtry's fans got a lot of bang for their buck: Four acts performed a pretty broad spectrum of pop rock over nearly four hours with not a lot of time wasted on transitions between artists.And there was something thoughtful about how the openers were structured so that the music grew progressively harder before getting to Daughtry's set.Mike Sanchez opened the evening with an acoustic guitar with keyboard accompaniment. He had a solid voice and obvious sex appeal, but his songs were only vaguely rock and seemed to be calculated to straddle the fence between Top 40 pop and Top 40 country. With just a little twang, they could go either way.Still, Sanchez was likeable and won people over with his covers of Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" and Bryan Adams's "Summer of 69."The '80s never go out of style in West Virginia.Mike Ruocco followed and expanded on Sanchez's groundwork, bringing a full band and a lot more audience participation. He was very crowd-friendly and probably helped make one little girl's summer. He brought a little girl named McHaley up on stage and gave her the chance to walk in the shoes of a real rock star, if only for a minute.It was a nice gesture and the little girl seemed to have had the time of her life.
However, L.A. rockers Beta Wolf didn't seem to really build on Ruocco's momentum. They rocked harder than Ruocco or Sanchez, but they seemed to lose ground the others had won from a polite, but not overly excited crowd.That all changed when Daughtry took the stage.People went nuts.Daughtry provided a consistently strong show for a near rapturous audience, playing cuts from his latest album, "Break The Spell," as well as selections from musical career since his 2006 run on "American Idol."Some of the night's highlights included "Home," "September" and a muscled-up cover of Tom Petty's "Running Down A Dream," that was just a lot of fun. At least on the floor seating, Daughtry had the majority of the crowd on its feet nearly from start to finish. Up in the balconies, people mostly kept to their seats, but that probably had less to do with not being excited as being fearful of tumbling to their deaths after being blinded by Daughtry's very intense lighting array.
Still, this was a show people adored. They didn't just yell; they shouted, they whistled, they hooted and hollered.Rock 'n' roll is pretty scarce in these parts and Charleston was hungry for it. Daughtry served up a rock 'n' roll banquet. Reach Bill Lynch at email@example.com