Chris Isaak serenaded the Hollywood Bowl on Friday evening. (Marvin Vasquez/Living Out Loud LA)
With both Chris Isaak and Chris Botti taking the stage, nothing more than pure American rock ‘n’ roll and jazz hit the stage Friday night at the Hollywood Bowl. It was the first evening of a two-night stand at the legendary venue, and the show, which included Bramwell Tovey conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was an absolute delight.
After the national anthem was played, Botti soon appeared dressed in a fine black suit alongside his luminous, golden-hued trumpet. Violinist Caroline Campbell, drummer Billy Kilson and vocalists Sy Smith and George Komsky, among other musicians, accompanied Botti.
A jazz take on Spanish piece “Concierto de Aranjuez” served as the perfect opener, particularly with Botti’s trumpet being prominent in the beginning. The nearly six-minute tune featured Campbell with a superb display of her violin and was something the crowd loved. The combination of Botti’s trumpet and Campbell’s violin made this 1939 melody a highlight of the night.
On top of “When I Fall in Love” and “Emmanuel,” Botti and his group also delivered “Flamenco Sketches” and “Time to Say Goodbye (Con te Partiro),” which was accompanied by Komsky. Acclaimed Italian singer Andrea Bocelli made “Time to Say Goodbye” an undeniably popular track; Botti made sure the audience knew that, though Komsky did a decent job singing the lyrics in Italian. The rather likable Smith added her charismatic vocals to Botti’s rendition of “Let’s Stay Together,” a song Smith dedicated to her husband since it was their wedding anniversary.
After a 20-minute intermission, Isaak came on in a custom suit that was black and extravagantly decorated with white embellishments that made him stand out more on stage. During “Best I Ever Had,” I just couldn’t stop staring at his outfit; that’s how much of an impact his fashion selection made. “You are the best, the best I ever had,” the crowd sang while bobbling their heads from left to right. This track didn’t feature the LA Phil, but “You Don’t Cry Like I Do” and “Only the Lonely,” among others, did.
Isaak’s biggest hit, “Wicked Game,” was well-received by the audience; his powerfully deep vocals didn’t go unnoticed and the LA Phil added a special touch. In “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing,” Isaak sure outdid himself. Words just can’t even begin to describe how musically exciting it felt to witness the song live – perhaps it was the sexy feel to it. After all, the song’s video did receive controversial response since before it was censored it was more or less deemed too sexy for television.
Isaak used “Forever Blue” to close out his individual set. The mid-1990s track is allegedly one he wrote especially for a lover who dumped him. It makes you wonder why that was the last track he performed on the night; guitar was his only accompaniment.
There was also an encore, featuring both Isaak and Botti. They collaborated in the Spanglish version of “Bésame Mucho,” “Love Me Tender,” “Blue Spanish Sky,” and “It’s a Big, Wide, Wonderful World.” The cream of the crop came when both performed “Can’t Help Falling in Love” – that there was musical magic.
Tickets are still available for the second night of Chris Isaak and Chris Botti at the Hollywood Bowl at Ticketmaster.com.