Chris Isaak at Hammersmith Eventim Apollo in London: A captivating blend of music and showmanship

Last Thursday – 29 June 2023 – was a memorable hot summer evening. At the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo in London, Californian rock crooner Chris Isaak – who for me is  Elvis‘ heir, delivered a performance that showcased his exceptional musical talent and innate ability to entertain. The concert was an amalgamation of Isaak’s own hits, covers of rock and roll classics, and his signature slapstick routine, making for a captivating experience. With a genuine love for the pioneers of rock and roll, Isaak successfully captured the spirit of the era, delighting the audience with his authentic renditions and original creations.

Chris Isaak gig at the Hammersmith Apollo London Mums magazine collage

Musical Brilliance and Captivating Showmanship

From the moment Chris Isaak stepped onto the stage, it was evident that he is not only a great singer, songwriter, and musician but also one of the greatest entertainers of all time. The show was infused with fantastic energy and the musicianship of the band was top-notch. Isaak’s engaging personality and infectious sense of humor added an extra layer of enjoyment to the performance. The audience was treated to an array of Isaak’s greatest hits, carefully chosen to ensure a memorable experience for everyone in attendance.

Isaak’s Setlist: A Journey Through Time and Emotion

The setlist for the evening was well-plotted, taking the audience on a journey through Isaak’s extensive discography and paying homage to the rock and roll legends who inspired him. Opening with the lively “American Boy,” Isaak immediately set the tone for an evening filled with nostalgia and heartfelt emotion. The crowd was enthralled as he effortlessly transitioned from the energetic “Somebody’s Crying” to the soulful “Waiting,” even venturing into the audience to connect with his fans on a personal level.

The performance of his 1989 hit, “Wicked Game,” was undoubtedly a standout moment. Isaak’s soulful and plaintive vocals combined with the famous atmospheric guitar riffs transported the audience to a place of deep longing and desire. The bluesy and bass-driven “Baby Did a Bad Thing” from 1995 showcased Isaak’s ability to infuse his music with raw sensuality, captivating the audience with every note.

Authenticity and Tribute to the Legends

One of the most remarkable aspects of Chris Isaak’s performance was his genuine love and respect for the music of the 1950s rock and roll era. With authenticity and reverence, Isaak paid tribute to the giants of that era, including Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. His covers of their songs were executed with finesse and without leaning into parody, a pitfall that many artists face when interpreting iconic tracks.

The rendition of Elvis’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” seamlessly transitioning into “Blue Hotel,” was a testament to Isaak’s ability to create a suitably gushing and romantic atmosphere. The beautifully arranged backing vocal harmonies by bass player Rowland Salley added an enchanting touch to the performance. Isaak’s rendition of James Brown’s “I’ll go crazy” was electrifying, capturing the showmanship and energy of the original without descending into imitation. It was a tribute to the artist who played at the Apollo 50 years earlier.

The Concert Experience

Beyond the exceptional musicality and tribute to rock and roll pioneers, Chris Isaak’s performance and two sparkly outfits’ changes were a visual spectacle. The synchronised guitar swinging and grape-vining country footwork added an extra layer of showmanship to the evening. Isaak’s slapstick routine and stage tricks were executed with impeccable timing, further cementing his reputation as a consummate entertainer. These elements contributed to a concert experience that was both musically satisfying and visually captivating.

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