When: Mon., Sept. 10 2012
CHRIS ISAAK Boosted by a Calvin Klein-hits-the-beach MTV video, Chris Isaak catapulted to fame with the spare, noirish Top 10 hit “Wicked Game.” With his chiseled Elvis-meets-James Dean features, Isaak was a natural for video, and his music career spread to film and TV throughout the ’90s and aughts. His amiable but mannequin-like acting worked best for David Lynch, where a non-reactive presence served as the calm eye amid a storm of mind-fuckery. However, the same reticence that grounded Isaak onscreen unfortunately hampers his carefully crafted music. Without fire in the belly, it’s a short step from languid to lethargic. Currently paying homage to vintage rock and country, Isaak’s “Beyond the Sun” tour highlights his new collection of covers. It’s a tasteful tribute to Isaak’s avatar and influence, Sun Studios honcho Sam Phillips, who cut classic 1950s records with Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and others. “Sun”-drenched in reverb, Isaak wails in a Roy Orbison falsetto and croons in an Elvis baritone over moody ballads and country shuffles. The craft on display is awesome, but while Isaak is trying for old-timey grit, his gut instinct is to go pristine. For all his allegiance to retro rockabilly, this Sun worshiper rarely rocks out.