Chris Isaak sparkled at A Day On The Green

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Chris Isaak sparkled at A Day On The Green

Image Credit: David Harris
Image Credit: David Harris
Image Credit: David Harris
Image Credit: David Harris
Image Credit: David Harris
Image Credit: David Harris
Image Credit: David Harris
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Words By Tammy Walters

The Californian crooner brought the ballads, the rock and the roll to the rolling green of Mt Duneed Estate on Saturday.

For its 525th show, A Day On The Green ignited Mt Duneed Estate with the fire and passion our live music scene desperately needs at this turbulent time. Whilst only half the size of its normal hill-covered audience, the energy from the crowd was double in size for the impeccable line-up of talent.

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Leading in with locals, The Mojo Corner stole the stage instantly, making their place amongst the greats of show business known. The seven-piece Surf Coast and Geelong jammers were infectious, captivating and powerful as they swung through a set of high energy roots-rock-soul-blues-hybrid originals. With tight harmonies, rambling rhythms and tambourine-breaking beats (quite literally), hard-hitters like ‘Help Me Out’ conjured crowd clap-alongs, winning over the early-bird crowd-goers.

Between sets The Knave, AKA the Elvis DJ not only brought the beats covering a selection of classics like Earth Wind and Fire, but also brought comedic charisma to the stage. Off stage he was royalty amongst the crowd, taking photos with punters and brightening the afternoon.

Another ray of sunshine was Violet Town darling, Ella Hooper. Stepping off a flight from Brisbane, having been up since 4am, did not deter the Killing Heidi hero from putting on a belter set for the Mt Duneed crowd. Donning leopard print pants with a matching vest and a yellow neck scarf to match her chardonnay – “it must be 5PM somewhere, or at least it will be 5PM exactly once I finish the set” – Hooper laid into her latest offering, prefacing with “I don’t know if you know this but I’ve gone country. I did it just before Beyoncé”. 

Opening with ‘Small Town Temple’, alongside guitarist Mic Hubbard and fiddler Lucy Grashash, Hooper soared through her solo works. She also looped us into last month’s Linda Ronstadt tribute show covering ‘Love Is A Rose’ and treated audiences with a rarity at her solo shows, Killing Heidi’s ‘Weir’ for a stunning crowd sing along. The smile did not leave her face even during her powerhouse vocal aerobics – a sign that the talented songwriter and performer was in her element.

I could watch Vika & Linda all day, marvelling in their onstage magic. From their start with Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows to leading their band The Bullets, these women are masters of their craft. To match their almighty powerful voice the two wore tailored power suits, Vika in crisp white and Linda in ecru, instantly commanding the stage. ‘The Parting Song’ echoed across the field, anthemic and tall, but their showstopping cover of ‘Feeling Good’ bulldozed the rolling green, taking everyone and everything with it. The raw weight of the vocal ascent from Linda hit hard, an aural bruise that hopefully won’t fade. 

The figurative injuries kept coming throughout the remainder of the night with Boy & Bear packing a punch in the lead up to Isaak. No hesitation, they launched into a mammoth set of new and old jumping through everything from their self-titled 2023 record to 2011’s Moonfire. ‘Feeding Line’, ‘Harlequin Dream’ and ‘Walk The Wire’ all made the cut, getting audiences on their feet, hands raised in praise to the dropping sun. The red skyline broke as the Sydney songstars dipped into their covers section for their harmonious version of Crowded Houses’ ‘Fall At Your Feet.’ The delicious timing of the slinky ‘Southern Sun’ meeting the sunset symbolised their mountainous soul-lifting set.

As the blackened sky blanketed the Mt Duneed scape, electricity overpowered the veins of the crowd. Out strides The Silvertones, Isaaks dedicated band, before the man of the hour drifts across the stage where he stayed for only two songs, appropriately ‘American Boy’ and ‘Somebody’s Crying’. Paying homage to all of the shades of blue embedded in his catalogue, Isaak wears a cornflower blue bedazzled suit, warning the youngsters in the crowd that he won’t in fact be figure skating but providing “semi-professional entertainment”, comparing his offering to Taylor Swift – “now that is professional and I’m nowhere near that”.

For ‘Here I Stand’ he bounds into the crowd, serenading the reserved seating section. He passes the microphone to a fan for an impromptu version of ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’, jumping into ‘Don’t Leave Me On My Own’ and returning to the stage for ‘Put Out Your Hand’. 

He jokes between songs, “How many people have seen us live before? If it’s your first time, I hope you’re open to the nudity and adult language that YOU will be providing. I don’t want to scare anybody!”. The warm, charismatic and gentlemanly nature of Isaak only elevates live performance, referring to himself as “Sparkle Boy” as he mocks his suit and overall cracking jokes along the way. It’s not just Isaak either, The Silvertones are a lively bunch on stage with synchronised dancing and guitar action, reminiscent of The Shadows. Their onstage banter and comradery with Isaak makes for an even more engaging show. 

Shockingly early, the high-strung Nashville styling of ‘Wicked Game’ opening bars shivers from the speakers. The desperate ballad breathes into the audience. Chris’s vocals are fluid between belly bellows and head highs, the emotional force of the obsessive love song clouding the crowd. The song concludes with Isaak saying “here comes the rock and here comes the roll”.

They dig into ‘Go Walk Down There’, ‘Speak of the Devil’ and ‘One Day’ then pulling out some classics of his own and classics of others. Between Roy Orbison’s ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ and ‘Only The Lonely’, and his own ‘Forever Blue’ and ‘Two Hearts’, Isaak tells stories of his musician heroes. He then jumps into another hero story, dedicating a cover of Elvis’ ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ to the romantics in the audience. The crooner comes back with ‘Blue Hotel’, changing the lyrics of ‘San Francisco Days’ to “Waurn Pond” and closing out his set with ‘Big Wide Wonderful World’.

He returns to the stage resembling a disco ball in his mirror suit, belting in with ‘Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing’. ‘Can’t Do A Thing To Stop Me’ and ‘The Way Things Really Are’ send off an almighty set of sonic proportions, a heavy reminder that at 67 years of age, Chris Isaak is nowhere near past his prime. 

A world-class artist of his time and a world-renowned and world-celebrated artist now, there is no more Mr Lucky – only Mr Chris Isaak.


Isaak continued on his In Concert tour as part of A Day On The Green. Tickets can be found here