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Mr. Las Vegas gives Chris Isaak his marching orders

Updated December 15, 2019 - 3:52 pm

Chris Isaak has not yet played Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. That happens next weekend.

But he has headlined Camp Anaconda.

That was the U.S. military base in Balad, Iraq, which hosted an all-star USO show featuring Isaak, Wayne Newton, Neal McCoy and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

A known admirer of Newton’s stage skills, Isaak was impressed by Newton’s zeal to support the 5,000 troops on hand for the performance.

“Wayne Newton could not have been more gung-ho if he had a rifle and a uniform,” recalls Isaak, who performs on his “Chris Isaak Holiday Tour” at Encore Theater at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. “He has the biggest heart you could ever find, and he was right there for those guys. I’ll never forget it.”

Isaak says of Newton’s stage performances, “He’s one of the best entertainers you’ll ever see. He’s been doing it a long time, he’s gifted at it, and he can make a show out of it, no matter what.”

Isaak’s affection for Newton hints to his own fondness for playing Las Vegas. He’s a veteran of several Vegas venues since he first performed in the city at Thomas & Mack Center in 1993. The 63-year-old artist has played Paris Theater, Hollywood Theatre at MGM Grand (now the David Copperfield Theater), the Colosseum at Caesars Palace (as special guest of Stevie Nicks), M Pavilion at M Resort, House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, Mandalay Bay Beach, both Joints at the Hard Rock Hotel, and Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center.

“My plan of attack, my basic belief, is to go out and have fun,” Isaak says. “If you have fun, they’ll have fun.”

Isaak is a master of the basics.

“We do all the stuff that’s so simple, people forget about it,” Isaak says. “The band wears suits. I wear a suit. We show up on time. When I go to see someone play at 9 o’clock and they show up at 12, that drives me nuts.”

Not to name names (including that of a certain Madame). Isaak’s point is generally assigned.

“I look at it and I go, if it says 9 o’clock, I’m ready to go at about 8:20,” Isaak continues. “I’m walking around like a lion in a cage back there, going, ‘Let’s go!’”

Isaak plans to mix holiday classics with his familiar hits, among them “Somebody’s Crying,” “Wicked Game,” “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing,” and “Forever Blue.”

“I’ve had the same band for 34 years, and a lot of these songs they know by heart,” Isaak says. “I switched the songs around, we have the set list and change it up.”

Expect Isaak to turn up in new “threads,” as the kids used to say, splashed with color with ample sparkle. As he promises, “I’m wearing so much glitter it looks like I robbed the Liberace Museum.”

Isaak changes his suit lineup for every tour, but one suit — laden with hundreds of small mirrors — remains for his encore.

And that suit rocks.

“It’s the most ridiculous thing you can wear, it’s weighs 35 pounds and you can’t clean it — you actually have to Windex it, literally, every little mirror,” Isaak says. “But why not? If somebody bought tickets to see me in Las Vegas, I am going to wear it. I can barely move, I can’t comb my hair and I feel like the Tin Man, but I will wear it.”

The Martinez Moment

Column fave Anne Martinez hosted her seventh annual fundraiser for Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth on Wednesday night at Tuscany Suites. Martinez raised $2,000 in checks and cash, and she and her hubby, Johnny Martinez of the Cirque empire, rolled out with an SUV full of supplies.

Kenny Davidsen hosted. Those who performed included (deep breath) Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie; Laugh Factory at Tropicana headlining magician Murray SawChuck with his sidekick, Doug “Lefty” Leferovich; Paul Johnson of “Tenors of Rock”; Jaclyn McSpadden, late of “Baz” and “Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox Hideaway,” and also a frequent sidekick of Brian Newman at NoMad Restaurant; Broadway performer and “Star Search” champ Angela Teek; comic, singer, songwriter and musician Dennis Blair; blues/rock singer Scott Foster Harris; producer/performer Sandra Huntsman; “Atomic Saloon” co-star Colin Cahill; “Sex Tips” at Paris Las Vegas co-star (and Cahill’s wife) MaKenzie Fly; AND the esteemed Enoch Augustus Scott of “Zombie Burlesque.”

In short, just another Wednesday night at Piazza Lounge. No cover charge, parking is free, the hang is priceless.

Great Moments in Social Media

Action film force The Rock (formerly known as Dwayne Johnson) has made a social-media buddy in occasional Twitter reviewer Michelle Desrochers, who is partnered with Fox 5’s Rachel Smith in the Nevada Best Buddies program.

Smith and Desrochers often attend advance screenings of feature films together, and on Wednesday caught “Jumanji: The Next Level,” which of course stars The Rock as Dr. Smolder Bravestone. Just after the screening, Smith posted a Twitter video of Desrochers saying, “I love it, and I love the Rock! The Rock is amazing! I love his guns, oh yeah! The man of the men!”

The Rock, predictably, appreciated this review. He re-tweeted Smith’s post with, “Heyyyyy my good buddy/super fan Michelle coming thru with the awesome Jumanji review. Well done to my friend, Rachel Smith! Doing the good work.”

This is the second time The Rock has commented on a Derochers tweet, chiming in after her similarly praising review of “Hobbs & Shaw” in August. This back-and-forth now qualifies as a franchise.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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