DATE: Saturday 6th October 2012
VENUE: Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
COST: £30 plus the usual daylight robbery service charges of £4.75
OUR VERDICT: Charismatic Isaak
Supporting Chris Isaak tonight was a guy called Paul Freemen, from Wales – just him, an acoustic guitar and harmonica on that big stage. He gave us the best part of half an hour of his own material. He also demonstrated how there are only eight notes and the same chord progression, he strummed his guitar with no variation while doing a medley mash up of about half a dozen songs which included “With Or Without You” and “Don’t Stop Believing”. Funny enough, he was right!!!
|Chris Isaak wows the audience|
A short interval and at 9pm, Chris Isaak and his band took to the stage, Chris dressed in a light blue sequinned suit and the band in black. The whole ninety minute show was very slick, with some choreographed formation dancing (in Shadows style) thrown in. The guitar changes were seamless, and the good relationship between Chris and the band was really evident with everyone on the stage having just as much fun as the audience. When Chris addressed the audience in between songs, he was extremely charismatic, putting Wolverhampton in the same league as New York and Paris, and encouraged everyone to take photos, saying “I didn’t get all dressed up NOT to have my picture taken!”. Cameras were then released!!
Our seats were towards the back, near the sound desk. If there is one place to sit in a hall, it’s near the sound desk as you tend to get the full benefit of the sound. Our ears were certainly spoiled. As the stage is very high at the Civic Hall, we also had quite a good view. The sound tonight was absolutely spot on. You could hear the full richness of Chris’ voice, the tinkling of the piano, and the various percussion being played alongside the usual drum beat, bass line (sometimes an upright double bass) and guitars.
At one point, Chris asked his drummer, Kenney Johnson, to “play something pretty” and then came down from the stage and into the audience, and whilst still singing, proceeded to shake hands with everyone near the aisle. We thought we’d been transported to an Elvis show! The women loved it, including the one who lunged forward from her place in the rear stalls, almost climbing over people to get to the aisle to get a photo, but alas, Chris was already on his way back to the stage before she managed it!!!
“Blue Hotel” was played early on in the set, along with “Pretty Girls Don’t Cry”. “During “Dance of Love” the audience got to their feet and the guitarist, Hershel Yatovitz did a choreographed dance during the chorus. Hershel also had a stint off stage, working his way up the left side, through the gap between front and rear stalls to the middle aisle and back again, much to the thrill of the crowd. “Wicked Game” attracted an audible sound of pleasure from the audience as it started and a huge volume of applause and whistles at the end. It did sound terrific.
Isaak’s latest album, "Beyond the Sun" is a Sun records tribute and once the roadies moved the piano from the back of the stage to the front left, we were treated to some fine old rock and roll and tunes from that great label, kicking off with “Ring of Fire”, and a couple of Elvis numbers, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” which showed Chris’ romantic side as he asked the audience to hold the one they love during it, and “It’s Now Or Never”. By this time we had left our seats and were in the middle aisle as close to the stage as we could get (no heavy handed security at all and everyone was good natured) and caught a fabulous rendition of “Great Balls Of Fire” with stage smoke and flames pouring out of the piano to compliment the on-fire piano playing.
When the set finished, the audience pounded the floor with their feet, demanding Isaak’s presence back on the stage and Chris re-appeared in a silver mirrored suit, dazzling us all with an encore which included a superb version of “Pretty Woman”.
|The encore, wearing his mirrored suit|
|(L-R)Bass player Roly Salley, drummer Kenney Johnson and guitarist Hershel Yatovitz harmonise|
As the encore finished, Chris took in the enthusiastic applause and turned his guitar around to show the message “Thanks a lot” to the crowd.
|Chris thanks the crowd|
Chris Isaak is a really gracious man, not only demonstrated through his thanks to the audience, but after the show, he spared some time to meet fans gathered outside by his tour bus. He made time for everyone, signing tickets, photos and stopping to have his picture taken with anyone who asked him, including us. We had a fantastic night.
|The Beeb and Chris|
|Minty and Chris|
|The Beeb swaps guitar picks with Hershel|