Chris Isaak is known for his popularity with women who shriek and stare with wide eyes and sing along to each word of every song.
What about the guys? They all want to master guitar like Jimi Hendrix, play football like Brett Favre and, yes, to sing like Chris Isaak.
Or is that just me?
Isaak was quick to refer to Lake Tahoe and casino gambling during a full-26 song set Saturday, Aug. 9 to 1,300 fans in the sold-out MontBleu Theatre. He hit notes as high as Mount Tallac and his suits were as bright as a bluebird morning on the slopes at Heavenly Valley.
“Do you want the family show, the sophisticated show or the rock and roll at the county fair show?” Isaak teased the crowd, adding a caveat after the audience chose the latter. “You might wake up in the morning feeling like you’ve eaten deep-fried Snickers and keep coughing up sequins.”
The crooner-comedian with a pompadour is an amalgamation of Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Liberace.
He mixed his own love songs with music from the place he loves, Sun Studios, playing covers by Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. Isaak’s last album, “Beyond the Sun,” was recorded at the famed Memphis site, Sam Phillip’s rockabilly birth place.
Early on, Isaak walked the showroom’s aisles, singing to fans with phones and heckling his band.
“From up here, you guys look young,” he said from the very back.
Kenny Johnson, plays drums, Scott Plunkett keys, Rafael Padilla percussion, Rowland Salley electric and double bass and Hershel Yatovitz “fancy” guitar. They all wore straight ties and black blazers with stars on the shoulders. Isaak donned a bow tie with a gaudy jacket he calls a BeDazzler.
The group is so tight it allows Isaak to improvise with observational humor. He stopped the band in an instant during “Great Balls of Fire,” the second of three encore songs, to admonish a woman for walking from her seat during the big finish. She must really have had to pee.
But it was musical improvisation that provided the highlight of the evening.
“Blue Spanish Sky,” a fan requested.
Isaak, again with mock admonishment, said, “We’re semi-professional up here. I’ve got the BeDazzler on.”
Nevertheless, the band played the tune, the only time it digressed from the set list. Isaak put heartfelt emotion into the ballad from the 1989 album “Heart Shaped World.” It’s not that the other efforts were not exceptional. But the unexpected tune brought a little extra from the singer, who afterward confirmed it.
“I think we’re better when we don’t practice stuff.”
That’s Chris Isaak: self-deprecating, funny and honest.
Chris Isaak set list
Saturday, Aug. 9
“Gone Ridin’ ”
“Somebody’s Cryin’ ”
“Don’t Leave Me On My Own”
“Notice the Ring”
“Let Me Down Easy”
“This Love Will Last”
“You Don’t Cry Like I Do”
“Don’t Make Me Dream About You”
“Lie to Me”
“San Francisco Nights”
“Big Blue Spanish Sky”
“I Can’t Help Falling In Love”
“Ring of Fire”
“You Took My Heart”
“Baby Done a Bad Bad Thing”
“Big Wide Wonderful World”
“Great Balls of Fire”
“Can’t Do a Thing to Stop Me”