Chris Isaak Colston Hall 8/10
CHRIS Isaak, who has always looked and sounded like a Fifties rock star, is riding high in the charts with an album of songs from the Sun Studios in Memphis, where many of the legendary rock pioneers began their careers. So we could expect a night of good old-fashioned rock'n'roll.
First on, though, was Paul Freeman, a Welsh singer/songwriter now living in California who performed well and had a strong voice but his songs were rather earnest and a little formulaic.
Surprisingly, this was Chris Isaak's first visit to Bristol, so we were hoping to hear his own classics as well as those from the Sun Studios. Dressed in a sequined blue suit and accompanied by his superb long-standing five-man band, he treated us to both.
He started with his own hits including the catchy American Boy, a superb version of the melancholy Blue Hotel, a very dancey Dancin', the witty Notice The Ring, the almost raunchy Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing and inevitably his wonderfully moody Wicked Game.
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Isaak is known for his entertaining shows and this was no exception. As early as the fourth song, We've Got Tomorrow, he was racing around the audience. With the words "I didn't dress up like this not have my picture taken" he invited people to take photographs, there were well-rehearsed dance moves across the stage and a couple from the audience were invited on stage to dance with the band.
It was slick showmanship but with the tongue very heavily in the cheek and full of self-deprecating humour.
When the bassist switched to upright bass then we knew it was time to turn the clocks back to the 1950s. There were great versions of Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire, Elvis' It's Now Or Never and Can't Help Falling In Love, Jerry Lee Lewis' Great Balls of Fire, Carl Perkin's marvellous Dixie Fried, a firey cover of Jimmy Wages' much overlooked Miss Pearl and in the encore, Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman.
"It's about time we got here to Bristol," said Chris Isaak, as the audience rose to their feet for a deserved standing ovation. He's not wrong there.