Concert review: Chris Isaak at Red Butte Garden | Buzz Blog
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Concert review: Chris Isaak at Red Butte Garden


Chris Isaak has worked his retro-cool Everyman schtick to death, but you know what? It still works.---

Isaak played to a sold-out house Tuesday at Red Butte Garden, and despite the fact that his live shows rarely change, the crooner can't help but charm even the most-jaded audience members into submission.

He's genuinely funny, so the between-song banter is always entertaining. He has a crack band, so he's able to deliver those rockabilly-tinged tunes and powerhouse ballads while always sounding great. And, let's face it, the dude can wear a suit like few others.

Tuesday, the suit was mustard-yellow for the majority of the set, then he traded it for his patented disco-ball jacket come the encore and "Blue Hotel." And while his chatty back-and-forth with his band can seem old to those who have seen Isaak a few times, and fashion has a prominent spot in the show, the music still comes through loud and clear.

In fact, if was a little TOO loud Tuesday. Sitting straight out from the stage, some of the louder, electric songs had me scrambling for some earplugs. A minor quibble, but a noticeable difference from Sunday night's New Orleans troika of bands who all could have used some extra juice.

Isaak's set was a winning one thanks to his unmistakable croon that comes with just the right about of hiccup and yodeling skills to pull off his blend of old-time rock n' roll, country and blues. "Somebody's Crying" was a highlight, as was "Western Stars," a song he introduced by admitting k.d. lang's cover is a better version than his original. "Wicked Game," his biggest hit, came accompanied with the steamy video on a screen covering the back of the stage, while "Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing" had just the right amount of creepy menace—a good trick considering Isaak's all-American boy appeal.

In the days leading up to the Isaak show, I was surprised by the animosity some of my friends have for the guy. Some dismissed him as "cheesy" based on his so-called "one-hit-wonder" status thanks to "Wicked Game," while others think his retro thing is completely uncool.

It's befuddling to me, but I'm a fan of the old-time rock that Isaak does a fine job both emulating and modernizing. It's a similar thing to Harry Connick, Jr., and what he does with the New Orleans jazz he grew up listening to, loving, and now playing. What Isaak or Connick do is not edgy or particularly original, but it's true to its roots and respectful of its sources. Ain't nothing wrong with that.


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