Review: ‘Chris Isaak’

Musical swashbuckler Chris Isaak had 'em dancing, rolling and swooning in the aisles at his good-time concert at the Greek on Sunday, a winning 110-minute production that featured plenty of musical skill, casual but undeniable sexiness, and gut-busting humor -- the unbeatable combination that generally makes Isaak's shows something special.

Musical swashbuckler Chris Isaak had ’em dancing, rolling and swooning in the aisles at his good-time concert at the Greek on Sunday, a winning 110-minute production that featured plenty of musical skill, casual but undeniable sexiness, and gut-busting humor — the unbeatable combination that generally makes Isaak’s shows something special.

Dressed in shocking purple suits, Isaak and his superb longtime band Silvertone (guitarist Hershel Yatovitz is a relatively recent addition) displayed an audacious and unusual sense of timing — not to mention dexterity — as they seamlessly shifted between painful ballads like 1995’s “Somebody’s Crying” and all-out rockers like “Speak of the Devil,” the title track from Isaak’s recent seventh album for Reprise/Warner Bros.

Isaak — who looks like James Dean, sings like Roy Orbison and cracks wise like a less-frantic Jim Carrey — offered a smoldering version of “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing,” his 1995 song that was featured in this summer’s “Eyes Wide Shut,” and a festive cover of “Diddley Daddy” (which he intro’d by disclosing his discovery that “all L.A. people are freaks,” which he seemed to mean as a compliment).

When Isaak wasn’t throwing pickup lines at the screaming girls in the front row, he was hurling good-natured insults at Yatovitz; the guitarist just smiled as Isaak told the crowd he’d found the musician working in a rundown strip club and later implied Yatovitz had stolen his woman.

The encore marked the return of Isaak’s show-stopping “human mirrorball” suit, which the audience greeted with uproarious laughter, even though he set about performing such heart-wrenching material as 1993’s “Can’t Do a Thing to Stop Me.” A medley of “Blue Moon” and “Only the Lonely” left many in the orchestra section weak-kneed, while “San Francisco Nights” helped close the show on a celebratory note.

Chris Isaak

Greek Theatre; 6,162 seats; $55 top

Production

Presented by Nederlander. Reviewed Aug. 29, 1999.

Cast

Band: Kenny Dale Johnson, Rowland Sallie, Hershel Yatovitz.
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