The world suffers from a lack of true blooded troubadours so when Chris Isaak comes to town, I make an effort to get out there. After all, this rocking romantic troubadour-comedian is one of a kind. How a songwriter that can write such tender and heartbreaking songs such as “Wicked Game” and “We Let Her Down,” the latter from his latest creation Mr. Lucky, can be so hysterically fun in concert amazes me. Live Chris Isaak is in his element, playing to the crowd and, with his faithful band of musical misfits, creating more a variety hour than a simple concert.
My friend Jill, another rabid Chris Isaak fan, caught his act at Chateau Saint Michelle Winery, where it was threatening to rain on our parade. But fortune’s smiled on Mr Lucky himself and the worst that Seattle doled out were a few periods of serious sprinkles. Of course, for the second concert in a row that I’ve seen, it seemed to do so right as Chris headed out into the crowd for a closer look at his adoring fans. To say this concert skewed female is like saying women love cupcakes…well, DUH! (And rest assured, many a boyfriend and husband were probably quite lucky themselves after an evening treating their ladies to a lil Chris.)
Having seen artists that fail to engage the audience, Chris and his crew let you know right away that you’re there to have a good time and they mean to deliver it. Banter amongst the band about their homeliness, flashy outfits, and the festive atmosphere doesn’t cover up the meticulousness of the music and the artistry; it enhances it. Chris Isaak was born to entertain a crowd and at his events, you get the feeling he’d do so in a crowd of thousands, hundreds, or a few drunks in a seedy bar. He gives it his all, backed up by an equally talented band that you know has his back through anything.
Musically, Chris played a lot of material from the new album which prompted a quick purchase upon getting home from moi. (And yes, the quality and energy is there in every song even recorded in a studio.) He also threw a few new takes on classic songs, partly by performing small set with his crew on chairs at the front of the stage. But he also threw in some troubadour classics from his rockabilly heroes: Roy Orbison and Elvis.
Which leads me to Chris Isaak’s greatest asset aside from his songwriter….uh hum, his voice. Other artists may cover Orbison or Elvis songs but Chris Isaak makes them his as his voices rises and falls, lilts, mellows, and bellows. Through the falsetto of “Wicked Game” or the bass rumble of “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing” to newer displays like “We Let Her Down,” his vocal orchestrations are perfectly blended to each emotion reflected in each song’s lyrics, whether desperation, admiration, obsession, or mischief.
If you want a fun, energetic, but sincere musical event packed full of jokes, smiles, and that infamous mirrored jacket, look up Chris Isaak when he and his band meander into town. Even if you’re not a fan going in, you will be on leaving. (One gripe: Chris promised my friend Jill
he’d perform “Two Hearts” in concert and so far, 9 concerts later, still no dice. Chris – now, you need to do a private performance and she just might forgive you!)
Chris Isaak’s latest, Mr. Lucky, is available currently for download.