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SLCene Suggests: Chris Isaak at Red Butte Garden

by on August 4, 2014


CHRIS ISAAK, RED BUTTE GARDEN, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 7:30 p.m., $54

One of the advantages of being a music writer in Salt Lake City for a number of years is the opportunity of being exposed to artists and music I otherwise never would have given much time to. Such is  the case for me when it comes to Chris Isaak. Like many music fans, Isaak came to my attention through his ballad “Wicked Game.” The song was on his 1989 album Heart Shaped World, but gained popularity through its use in the 1990 David Lynch movie Wild at Heart. The movie was a wild psychedelic ride of murder and Elvis worship, but the video for “Wicked Game” was a phenomenon because of its simplicity–just black and white images of Isaak and supermodel Helena Christensen rolling around on a beach. As a young rock fan at the time, I didn’t have much use for Isaak’s sultry croon on “Wicked Game,” and it was only years later when I covered one of his Salt Lake City concerts for a review that I was introduced to all Isaak’s music has to offer. His sound is rooted in classic rock and roll, folks like Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Elvis. He’s found various opportunities to cover songs by those legends through the years, most recently on an album full of songs from the legendary ‘50s-era Memphis recording studio, Sun Studio. His own songs expand on that classic rock sound, and make for excellent live performances with his long-time band.

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