PORTLAND – Chris Isaak and his first-rate band turned in a sensational show at the State Theatre on Tuesday night. Clad in a light-blue sequined suit, Isaak had one foot in 1950s Memphis and one foot right here in Portland.

Over the course of a 90-plus-minute set, he traversed through his own catalog and delivered several old rock ‘n’ roll gems of the Sun Studio era. Songs like Carl Perkins’ “Dixie Fried,” Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and, of course, a few from Elvis Presley, including “It’s Now or Never,” and “I Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Some of those will be on an album recorded earlier this year at the storied Sun Studio and scheduled for release before the year’s end.

Speaking of Sun, the backdrop of the stage was huge Venetian blinds, which, if you Google photos of Sun Studio, are what you’ll find in the windows. Somehow, I doubt it was a coincidence. Nice touch.

Guitarist Hershel Yatovitz shined all night, especially during “I Want Your Love.” Bass player Roly Salley also dazzled with his regular and standup bass. I think my favorite member of Isaak’s band was pianist Scott Plunkett. On both piano and a B3 Hammond organ, he was awesome.

Plunkett’s highlights included “Somebody’s Crying,” “You Don’t Cry Like I Do,” and Isaak’s inspired cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”

Extra fun came in the form of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire,” during which “smoke” billowed out of Plunkett’s piano. The entire band brought the house down during “Go Walking Down There.”

The thing with a Chris Isaak show is that the band members take the music quite seriously but not so much themselves, hence things like choreographed dance moves, the smoking piano and the 30-foot inflatable pinup girl that appeared as a backdrop during the encores.

Isaak, now in his 50s, is still the consummate performer, full of David Letterman-style humor and Elvis-worthy dance moves. He’s also still got one heck of a voice, and he let it rip all night on hits like the timeless “Wicked Game,” and “Somebody’s Crying.”

Early in Tuesday’s show, Isaak took a tour through the audience — including the balcony — and sang “Please Don’t Leave Me On My Own,” much to the delight of everyone.

The encores featured Isaak in his famous mirror suit, and the night ended on a poignant note with a solo acoustic performance of “Forever Blue.”

Opening the show was local rock musician Darien Brahms, who turned in a terrific half-hour set with her drummer, Ginger Cote.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

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