By Oscar A. Hernandez – Photographer/Writer
December 1, 2011
When many ladies are asked to describe Chris Isaak in one word, it’s usually, “Heartthrob.” At last night’s Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall, Isaak did exactly that … leaving many hearts throbbing for more of his illustrious voice. On a one-night stop in Honolulu, Hawai’i, Isaak played a variety of songs from his current album, “Beyond the Sun,” along with some of his past hits.
Last night’s show wasn’t only about listening to a great musician … it was about connections and meaning. Isaak shared with the audience about his musical influences when growing up in California. ”As a kid I would listen to my parents’ vinyl record collection.” He went on to explain that it was artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Elvis, who tugged at his musical curiosities. “It’s that kind of music you don’t hear much of these days,” adding how he considers their songs as classics. Isaak also touched upon the serendipity of his current album. He spoke of it as if it were a result of a personal pilgrimage to Memphis, Tennessee, where in Sun Studio, he recorded part of the, “Beyond the Sun” album – the same studio where his musical idols recorded their iconic music. One can quickly deduce the meaningful significance on why Isaak recorded his album there. Clearly it was a place where he drew from the aura of his idols to bring their music to the forefront once again.
Since it was a night of connection, Isaak demonstrated his way of getting more in touch with the audience by ambling through the aisles as he sang, “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” It was entertainingly noticeable how the ladies in the crowd struggled at keeping their hands off him; and from my distant vantage point, I swear a few of them were close to fainting.
Lending their professional support, were Isaak’s bandmates, who consist of two of his original members: Drummer, Kenney Dale Johnson, and bass player Rowland Salley. Fellow bandmates who have been with Isaak for several years included pianist, Scott Plunkett, percussionist Rafael Padilla; and making the show as a sort of homecoming was Honolulu-born guitarist Hershel Yatovitz.
What was refreshing to see was Yatovitz leading the band into Isaak’s most recognizable hit, “Wicked Game.” The guitar effects had a placid twang, almost as if it were a mellow version of a California surf guitar tone. I’m certain I share the same thoughts as many amateur guitar players like me, listening to that guitar opening makes one take a momentary contemplation, “I can play that!” And coming back to reality, I’m reminded why some people are professional guitarists, and others are not. Yatovitz with his guitar technique, indeed left the waves flowing smoothly here in Hawai’i. Of course, let us not forget the most important element of this song: Isaak’s crooning voice. What else can be said but, “WOW!” The post-reflection of listening to that song, can best be described as if one was listening to the actual recording of the hit song, but it was much better hearing it, seeing it, and feeling it live!
One would think, “Wicked Game,” would be the closing song for the show, but au contraire! It speaks volumes about an artist who plays his hit song at the midway point of the concert, and still has the musical preeminence to continue spellbinding the audience. Isaak and the band carried on with “get up on your feet,” renditions of Johnny Cash’s, “Ring of Fire,” Jerry Lee Lewis’, “Great Balls of Fire,” Elvis’, “How’s the World Treating You?” Jimmy Wages’, “Miss Pearl,” and Roy Orbison’s, “Oh, Pretty Woman.”
Chris Isaak said he needed to wait for the right moment to do a record that paid tribute to his musical icons; and with last night’s tremendous performance, he brought those tribute songs from beyond the sun back into our horizons.
To view more photos of Chris Isaak, go to www.infinitypacificphoto.com
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(Originally posted December 2011 on Scout66.com)