Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chris Isaak proves he belongs to the era of Presley and Orbison during retro ... - Dallas Morning News (blog)

Chris Isaak strut his stuff Friday night on excellent originals and covers. (Mona Reeder/The Dallas Morning News)

GRAND PRAIRIE â€" Chris Isaak clearly belongs to another musical era. Back then the songs were uncluttered, direct and stirring with a sultry undertone. Guitar solos were muted yet sharp. The notes slithered beneath the skin, slowly taking over the body. The voices were robust and vulnerable, able to connect with everyday men and women.

So when Isaak recorded 2011′s Beyond the Sun, his tribute to the music crafted at Memphis’ iconic Sun Studio by the legendary Sam Phillips, the results were so second nature that it made us all wonder what took him so long?

In concert Friday night at Verizon Theatre, Isaak and his superb five-man band â€" bass player Rowland Salley, drummer Kenney Dale Johnson, guitarist Hershel Yatovitz, pianist Scott Plunkett and percussionist Rafael Padilla â€" delivered nearly two hours of originals and covers steeped in that retro coolness. Wearing a sequined red suit, and later a glittery silver two-piece, Isaak preserved the legacy of those that built the rock ‘n’ roll foundation.

So many of his self-penned composition could easily work as homages to his influential predecessors Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. I’m talking about concert highlights such as 1986′s hazily melancholy “Blue Hotel,” the accordion-filled corker “Pretty Girls Don’t Cry,” the moody gem “Somebody’s Crying,” the stunning ballad “Wicked Game,” and the strut-worthy rockers “Dancin’” and “Notice the Ring.”

Front row fans danced to Chris Isaak tunes Friday night at Verizon Theatre. (Mona Reeder/The Dallas Morning New)

But it’s not just the expert musicianship and rich vocals that make Isaak’s songs crackle onstage, it’s the man’s deliciously sinister personality. His offbeat sense of humor is equal parts self-deprecating and flippant. The more he talked, the more he made us laugh.

There’s also something warm and endearing about Isaak, like he truly treated that performance as a way to interact with friends instead of merely fans. He walked through the entire venue while singing “We’ve Got Tomorrow” and invited three women up to the platform for dancing and merriment during one groove-intensive number.

When he finally reached the Beyond the Sun portion of the show, complete with a “Memphis Recording Studio” neon sign hanging behind the band, he was ready to deliver Cash’s “Ring of Fire” with a South-of-the-border feel, Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and “It’s Now or Never” with pathos and passion, Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” with unbridled verve. Plunkett’s piano was literally smoking during that one.

And still it was Isaak’s own “Blue Spanish Sky,” a gorgeous ballad made all the more seductive by special guest Johnny Reno’s tenor saxophone solo, that transported me to a bygone musical era. Isaak would have fit right in with those legends.

His originals were perfect companions to the Sun Records covers he sang. (Mona Reeder/The Dallas Morning News)

. Bookmark the


No comments:

Post a Comment