Chris Isaak: Beyond the Sun Live!

Written by November 20th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Chris Isaak
Beyond the Sun – Live
(Vanguard)
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Anyone who has experienced Chris Isaak and his veteran band live knows what an energetic performance he delivers. His sense of musical flow, dry, self-deprecating between song patter and spirited interaction with the audience and his band guarantees a memorable show.

Unfortunately, this botched DVD captures almost none of the spontaneous charm and excitement of those gigs. This tour promoted his recent album of Sun label covers, so you would expect more than five tracks from it to be reprised, especially since the CD’s deluxe edition clocked in at 25 selections. Although the 55 minutes of music is characteristically exuberant roots infused pop, what happened to the rest of the concert? If the program was trimmed for television, why not add the remainder for the DVD? Also, the set list is jumbled with frustratingly choppy results and clumsily edited together. The lighting is often harsh and frequent shots of the audience are distracting. A brief “behind the scenes” segment shows snippets of rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson backstage, but we never see more of that meeting. Nor do we see Isaak’s famous mirrored suit that is highlighted on nearly every show and also featured in the extras.

That said, Isaak and his group are in typically fine form, the Dolby sound is crisp, the songs that make the cut are some of his best and if you just want a souvenir, this might fill the bill. But it’s a missed opportunity in so many ways that you wonder if the usually classy Isaak had any input into the lackluster, bordering on slapdash, final product. His fans, and talent, deserve better.

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