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Isaak's ageless music satisfies

Chris Isaak
The Fox Theatre
Tucson, AZ
July 21, 2018
Chris Isaak

Review and photos by Frances Sealy

Chris Isaak and his band returned to Tucson for a highly anticipated show. Isaak is known for his rockabilly style of music as well as his tremendous sense of humor during his shows. Isaak promised the fans that this would be a different show this time. "We don't normally do balloon animals. It should be a good rock and roll show tonight."

There is an abundance of showmanship from the first notes played during the show until the last. Isaak wasted no time maneuvering from the stage into the audience to play a gag on a fan. She requested "Lie To Me" by the third song in the set. Isaak responded swiftly, "We've only done two or three songs and she's already requesting something else. 'Yeah, yeah, play the good one. I don't want to sit here till ten.' We've got a lot of albums. We can't do them all in one night." Isaak turned to the band and asked, "Do you remember that one?" They proceeded to play the request.

That was not the only time during the show that the singer strayed from the set list. Another fan shouted a request for an Elvis song and he threw in "How's the World Treating You."

The band is as much a part of the show as Isaak. The members of the band have been by Isaak's side for 33 years. They fit each other like a glove and they are unflappable when Isaak changes the set list at a moment's notice.

The touring band includes Kenney Johnson on drums, Scott Plunkett on keyboards, Rowland Salley on bass, Hershel Yatovitz on lead guitar, and Rafael Padilla on percussion. The bond between the band members is that like that of siblings. There is a lot of good-natured teasing between everyone on stage. Isaak has them doing some chorography during the show. These guys will do anything for their leader.

Yatovitz's guitar is as important as the vocal during "Wicked Game." "Notice This Ring" was a great opportunity to showcase Johnson's drums and Padilla's percussion. The band is a tight, well-oiled machine.

Isaak writes the bulk of his music. He sings and writes about heartbreak the majority of time. The performance of "Wicked Game" and "Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing" are well worth the price of admission. Isaak is not a one-hit wonder. Songs like "Heart-Shaped World," "Blue Hotel" and "San Francisco Days" insure that Isaak's shows are not 'filler music.' His songbook has many gems.

There are some cover songs in the set. This tour seems to have several Elvis Presley covers and Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman."

Isaak weaves his voice in and out of his falsetto seemingly without effort. He captures Presley's upper register impeccably. His growl in "Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing" is just plain sexy. The bottom line is that Isaak's voice is a good as it was in the '80s.

There are no four-letter words during Isaak's stories. His self-depreciating humor is not laced with anything mean spirited. He is relentless and cheerful. Isaak quipped during his trip through the audience, "Kenny, how do I get back (to the stage)? Oh, I should have dropped bread crumbs."

Related articles:

Chris Isaak - Concert review - Tucson, AZ August 2013
Chris Isaak (Orlando Calling 2011) - Festival review - Orlando, FL November 2011
Chris Isaak / Natalie Merchant - Concert review - Hammond, IN June 2002

Set List:
1. American Boy
2. You Owe Me
3. Somebody's Crying
4. Lie to Me
5. Doin' the Best I Can (Elvis Presley cover)
6. We've Got Tomorrow
7. Big Wide Wonderful World
8. Heart Shaped World
9. Wicked Game
10. Go Walkin' Down
11. Oh, Pretty Woma
n (Roy Orbison cover) 12. Ring of Fire (Merle Kilgore cover)
13. Blue Spanish Sky
14. How's the World Treating You (Elvis Presley cover)
15. Livin' for Your Lover
16. Let Me Down Easy
17. Graduation Day
18. Baby What You Want Me to Do
19. Can't Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley cover)
20. You Don't Cry Like I Do
21. Don't Make Me Dream About You
22. Blue Hotel
23.San Francisco Days
24. Notice the Ring

25. Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing
26. Can't Do a Thing (To Stop Me)
Chris Isaak Chris Isaak Chris Isaak
Chris Isaak Chris Isaak Chris Isaak
Chris Isaak David Luning
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