Review: Chris Isaak - Riverstage, Brisbane Saturday, 26th March 2011

Chris’s concert at Brisbane’s Riverstage was more than just an evening of great music. Not only does the man have one of the best voices you will ever hear, he is a wonderful entertainer in every sense of the word, not to mention very easy on the eye…


Brisbane put on her very finest weather for the show. A perfect autumn night, with not a drop of the forecast rain in sight and none of the oppressively high humidity the city has been experiencing on recent nights.  It was the perfect backdrop for a night of great music, sparkling suits and even more sparkling personalities with more than a sprinkling of witty humour and a fair amount of sex appeal thrown in for good measure. Not bad for an evening under the stars in Bris Vegas.


The night’s entertainment started early with a short set from Danielle Spencer, a.k.a. Mrs Russell Crowe, followed by country singer, Melinda Schneider, who included a few Doris Day tunes in her set, a preview of the music she will be performing in her upcoming stage show about the great Hollywood movie star. One of Australia’s best performers, Joe Camilleri and his band, The Black Sorrows. kept the audience happy with a set that included some new songs as well as old favourites like ‘Harley and Rose’, ‘Hit and Run’, ‘Shape I’m In’ and finishing with their hit ‘Chained To The Wheel’.


But the night belonged to Chris Isaak. Looking resplendent in a baby blue suit, embellished with glistening sequins, the singer had the audience in the palm of his hand from the moment he breezed on to the stage, strumming his guitar, flanked by his band members, all dressed in black. He had fans streaming down the aisles to the front of the stage from the very beginning of the show. Isaak always likes getting up close and personal with the audience and they lapped it up when the singer left the stage to stroll through the crowd, serenading some very lucky and excited ladies, with a rendition of ‘Love Me Tender’ that had them all swooning.


While the set was mostly made up of original tunes, there was a fair smattering of covers to appease anyone not familiar with some of the more obscure album tracks. One of the highlights in my opinion was the singer’s version of the Johnny Cash classic, ‘Ring of Fire’, which displayed very nicely the richness of Isaak’s voice, a cover of James Brown’s ‘I’ll Go Crazy’ and, my favourite, ‘Pretty Woman.’  I’m going to put myself out there and say that, aside from the legend himself, nobody sings a Roy Orbison song quite like Chris Isaak. Let it be said here that I am a huge fan of Roy… but you only have to hear Chris crooning ‘Only the Lonely’ to know what I mean.


Isaak never missed a beat during his 90 minute set, taking us through the torture of unrequited love with ‘Somebody’s Crying’ and the very sensual ‘Wicked Game’, both putting the singer’s very impressive vocal range to optimum use.


In addition to his better known hits and a few covers, there were also some songs from his most recent studio album, Mr. Lucky, released in 2009. ‘You Don’t Cry Like I Do’ literally tore at the heartstrings, in stark contrast to the playful ‘The Best I Ever Had’       


Predictably, the encore included one of Isaak’s biggest hits, ‘Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing’, always guaranteed to get an enthusiastic reaction from any crowd. Strutting back onto the stage in that famous suit of mirrors, he was like a walking strobe light, shining brightly from all angles. But obviously it must have been a bit much even for him as he had to remove the jacket to reveal a much more comfortable looking plain black T-shirt.


The set list was nicely paced, with the crowd losing themselves in the romance one minute and bopping along to rockabilly tunes the next. And Chris’s humorous banter ensured the evening never had a dull moment.


When it comes to all round entertainment of the finest calibre, you can’t go past Chris Isaak. If you missed him on this tour, he will undoubtedly be back to our shores again in the not too distant future. But why would you want to wait?





by Sharyn Hamey



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