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Twist to some holiday twang with Chris Isaak in Medford

The affable artist brings his retro charm to the Chevalier Theatre Dec. 3.

Chris Isaak. Courtesy Photo

Poor Chris Isaak. Thirty years later and still, the first thing people think of when his name comes up is his video for “Wicked Game,” filmed in sultry black-and-white by iconic fashion photographer Herb Ritts, and featuring much sandy frolicking between a tank-top-sporting Isaak and nearly-naked Victoria’s Secret model Laetitia Casta. It was all very ’90s, but not really representative of Chris’s body of work (so to speak).

While the echoey noir-rock represented by “Wicked Game” is certainly a big part of his repertoire, he’s just as comfortable around a hot rockabilly lick or a falsetto ballad. (Or a flat-out classic cover, be it Elvis, Roy Orbison, or Johnny Cash.)

And given the timing of his next local appearance — Dec. 3 at the Chevalier Theatre in Medford, for his “Holiday Tour” — it’s a safe bet that he’ll dip into the seasonal favorites on his 2005 holiday album, the aptly titled “Christmas.” Orbison’s “Pretty Paper” seems like a natural, but if he’s feeling extra-retro, Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka” was also part of that set.


Almost as important as the music at a Chris Isaak show, though, is the singer’s affable charm and, well, wicked sense of humor. (And we don’t just mean his sparkly, flowered suits, an affinity for which led him down the rock ’n’ roll path, he told an audience at The Cabot in Beverly in 2019 — “It was either this or figure skating,” he said.) Isaak’s often self-deprecating comic monologues, delivered with expert timing no doubt honed on his early-2000s Showtime sitcom, “The Chris Isaak Show,” are an absolute highlight of his appearances.

And if you’re a longtime follower, you can probably expect to hear your favorites when Isaak takes the Chevalier Theatre stage with his longtime band this December. “I’m a big fan of trying to make the people who show up for your show have a good time,” he told the Arizona Republic in 2018. “I know that seems goofy, but it’s not about me having a good time. I’ll have a good time because I’m gonna play what I want to play. But I don’t like the idea of somebody coming and saying, ‘Oh, I was really hoping you were gonna play …’”


Which reminds us, Chris, we’d love to hear “I Believe” off of 1995’s “Forever Blue.” Can you get on that?

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