REVIEW & GALLERY: Chris Isaak at Bimbadgen for a day on the green

A Day on the Green punters were treated to a masterclass in musicianship and stagecraft when Chris Isaak made his triumphant return to the Hunter on Saturday.

Chris and his band are in Australia for a string of dates around the country which included the headline slot for A Day on the Green at Bimbadgen.

Even before the iconic American rockabilly revivalist took to the stage, Aussie acts, Vika and Linda, Mark Seymour and the Undertow, and Boy and Bear reminded us why live performance shouldn’t be taken for granted. Especially at a time when we can all do with a reminder of what it is to be a part of something higher than ourselves and connect through a love of music and performance.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a live music lover who doesn’t enjoy the powerful voices, sweet harmonies and stage presence that sisters Vika and Linda. They’re always a great choice for festival openers, and drew in the early crowd with their friendliness and pure talent by getting everyone grooving and singing along to their classic hits including When Will You Fall for Me and cuts from their 2021 album The Wait. The talented duo finished up their afternoon set with a powerful cover of the seminal soul number Feelin’ Good.

Vicka and Linda
PHOTO: Juan Mahony

Mark Seymour is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most enigmatic frontmen. Fronting his band The Undertow at Bimbadgen, it’s obvious that he knew how to capture the attention of the audience as they basked in the autumnal afternoon sunshine. Mixing in beautifully reworked versions of Hunters and Collectors tracks like Holy Grail, the iconic Do You See What I See and the anthemic Throw Your Arms Around Me, appropriately played as the pink hues of sunset kissed the sky, was a great way for the band to showcase tracks from their latest release – The Boxer. If you enjoy Seymour’s honest songwriting and gritty Aussie rock, you should definitely give The Boxer a listen.

Mark Seymour
PHOTO: Juan Mahony

The last time Boy and Bear played A Day on the Green, with Crowded House, their set was interrupted by a dramatic lightning storm. Mother Nature was kind to the laid-back group this time, providing a beautiful sunset as the backdrop to a solid performance that got people dancing, swaying, singing along, and warmed up for the sparkling talent of Chris Isaak and his incredible band.

Boy and Bear
PHOTO: Juan Mahony

In a flash of sequins, showmanship and swag, Chris Isaak charmed his way into the hearts of the eager crowd before the end of his opening number.

He paid tribute to the talent of his support acts, and humbly thanked his audience for coming out to see live music at a time when live music really needs the support of music lovers.

“I wanna thank you for coming out tonight to a field in the Hunter Valley to support live music.

“Without you, these people (gesturing to his band of 37 years) would be out there on the streets in a gang,” Isaak jokingly added.

Chris Issak
PHOTO: Juan Mahony

Isaak’s performance was textbook superstar. He crooned and laughed with his adoring crowd, and to whip them up, left the stage with a few security guards in tow to roam amongst his fans, giving out high fives and hugs, all the while not missing a beat and making fine use of his smooth and sultry voice that has wooed music lovers for decades.

Isaak played all his radio favourite hits including Wicked Game, Somebody’s Crying and fan favourites Blue Hotel and San Francisco Days and paid homage to his idol and friend Roy Orbison with covers of Oh! Pretty Woman and Only the Lonely.

The coordinated dance moves of Isaak’s bandmates, getting the crowd involved in the encore of the sexy number Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing and the sense of fun and frivolity that Isaac whipped up with his flair for performance and good humour, were highlights of a memorable gig that would have left everyone lucky enough to be part of the audience, with a sense of joy and fulfilment and hopefully a renewed hunger to get out more often to feast on live music performance. Just as Mr Isaak would want it.