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Chris Isaak: The Concert Review

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Chris Isaak perform at the Boulder Theater (in Boulder, in case you were wondering).  I promise there really is a limit to the type of artists I see live! 😀

This was the second time I’ve had the pleasure and I must say his shows are always worth the price of admission.  He and his band are extraordinarily talented, playing off each other and following Chris’ lead without hesitation or mistake (including a few jaw-dropping changes).  Their highly-stylized appearance belies their tendency to spontaneously interact with the audience, incorporating their actions and reactions into the show, often with hilarious results.  Chris is wonderfully sassy in his dialogue, managing to make fun of himself (important – it wouldn’t work otherwise!), his bandmates, and the audience with delightfully off-color jokes that are at odds with his sad songs, handsome face, and sparkly costumes.  Case in point:  During their cover of “It’s Now Or Never”, a woman got up to leave for a break.  He calls out, mid-song, “Hey, where are you going?”  She waved and kept going.  His response?  “I guess it really is Now Or Never” and then he resumed singing without missing a beat.  (I acknowledge that he could have already planned on calling out to someone leaving – someone is always on the move at a show – but it felt impulsive regardless). 

Chris joined us on the balcony, as he is wont to do!

Chris joined us on the balcony, as he is wont to do!

And now for the set itself:  ‘Tis the season, so a good 5 or 6 holiday songs were incorporated into the set. There was also a backdrop reminiscent of a wrapped package and a Dancing Santa (yes, a Dancing Santa – see Sense of Humor above) for part of the show to set the mood properly. It was a good mix of traditional and original Holiday songs (of course he has a Holiday album).  The rest of the set was thankfully dedicated to non-Holiday music; I’m a small-doses-of-holiday-music kind of gal.  The non-holiday songs were a well-balanced combination of his greatest hits and songs from his current album Beyond The Sun, with covers of Sun Studio’s heyday in the 50s (excellent collection, btw).  The execution of all of the music is so tight, so en pointe, it is a wonder to behold.  And they have so much fun while doing it!

Highlights for me:

1. The performance of his standard hits:  I, like so many others, LOVE “Wicked Game”, “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing”, and “Blue Hotel” (flawlessly beautiful performance of this song).  I would be delighted if he would sneak in “You Owe Me Some Kind Of Love”, but alas.  They are forgiven, however, as I understand the Challenges of the Set List and am glad I don’t have to make those decisions!

2. Introduction to an older song I had missed:  “Go Walking Down There”.  This was apparently a single from the Forever Blue album (which I missed. 1995 had many things in it.  Chris Isaak was sadly not one of them).  This song was awesome and quite dark live.  And we all know how I feel about dark music.  🙂

3. The Sun Studio covers:  I was a mere 7 months old when Elvis left us and many of the other artists on the Behind The Sun album are either also gone or haven’t toured during my adulthood (Jerry Lee Lewis is maybe the only exception?).  So it is cool to hear these songs live, caringly and respectfully performed with such obvious love for the material.

On Michelle’s Arbitrary Rating Scale (would calling it MARS be too corny?  Mayhap.  And mayhap I like corny), I give the performance a 9 The one-point ding?  Mostly, like a teacher who grades on a bell-curve, I struggle with awarding a perfect score.  There have been perfect shows that retain focus and energy from start to finish – you are transported from the realities of being in a theater on a cold December night into another, music-filled plane.  Alas, this show had a few dips in energy that were not a result of playing a quieter/slower song.  I would actually give his performance at the Paramount Theater last December at least a 9.5, so we know he has it in him.  😉

All in all, if you get a chance, go see Chris Isaak (and his amazing band!) live – it is an entertaining evening of fantastic music and snappy, sassy humor!

I will leave you with some videos to whet your appetite:

Wicked Game.  If you somehow missed this sexy bad boy over the years, you are in for a treat.  Otherwise, you know you want to watch it again.

A little Johnny Cash, from Beyond The Sun

And lastly, a holiday song.  Christmas is only 2 weeks away!

For your Chris Isaak needs:  He’s available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and anytime you need a soundtrack for your broken heart. 

PS  You know I can’t resist also mentioning HIM’s cover of Wicked Game (“Oh, it’s so sad, isn’t it” 😀 ).  Thank you for humoring my addiction…