Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Brian Setzer Orchestra at the Hard Rock Café

Brian Setzer was born and raised in Massapequa, New York, and by 1979, had formed a rockabilly trio called the Tomcats that played locally but achieved little success. A year later, the trio changed its name to the Stray Cats, relocated to England, and had significant success that spilled back to the United States in 1982. The Stray Cats separated in 1984, but reunited briefly several times to record albums and mount tours. Meanwhile, Setzer became the lead guitarist for the touring version of Robert Plant's band, the Honeydrippers, in 1985 and 1986, until Setzer launched a solo career. In 1990, however, Setzer once again resurrected an older and nearly forgotten form of American music, jump music, when he formed a swing revival band, the 17-member Brian Setzer Orchestra, the first ever big band to be led by guitar. Setzer's efforts have sold 13 million records and the Brian Setzer Orchestra has won three Grammy Awards. Setzer was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2015, but he now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra brought its "Christmas Rocks!" tour tonight to the Hard Rock Café for an invitation-only concert for SiriusXM listeners. On a stage with two Christmas trees, gift-wrapped boxes and many lights, Setzer's 19-piece orchestra performed rockabilly, swing, jive, boogie woogie, jazz and Christmas songs for nearly two hours. Initially wearing a leopard-print shirt and shoes and slinging a leopard-print guitar, Setzer played before 13 horns (four trumpets, four trombones and five saxophones), a piano, upright bass, drums and two backing vocalists. The band played tightly and smoothly, with Setzer allowing the musicians opportunities for solos before concluding with crisp endings. Setzer's original tunes intermingled with traditional fare, all given innovative, classy arrangements. Midway through the set, the horns took a break and Setzer performed several songs in stripped-down form, including a solo version of "The Christmas Song." Although less than half the songs were Christmas fare, Setzer rang up the holiday hoopla for the end of the set. Setzer and the orchestra performed a brief but danceable rendition of Tchaikovsky’s "The Nutcracker Suite." The closing swing version of "Jingle Bells" included Santa Claus throwing candy canes into the audience and then two cannons showering "snow" confetti over the dance floor. The festive extras enhanced the fine performance for an evening of holiday joy.

The "Christmas Rocks" concert will air Friday, December 9, at 8:00 pm ET on Outlaw Country, channel 60, and through the SiriusXM App on smartphones and other connected devices, as well as online at SiriusXM. Highlights from the concert will air on SiriusXM’s Holly, channel 13.

Visit Brian Setzer at www.briansetzer.com.

Setlist:
  1. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (Brenda Lee cover)
  2. Hoodoo Voodoo Doll
  3. Stray Cat Strut (Stray Cats cover)
  4. Boogie Woogie Santa (Mabel Scott cover)
  5. Gene and Eddie (Stray Cats cover)
  6. Here Comes Santa Claus (Gene Autry cover)
  7. Sleepwalk(Santo & Johnny cover)
  8. Angels Heard On High
  9. The Dirty Boogie
  10. Jump Jive and Wail (Louis Prima cover)
  11. Let There Be Rock (AC/DC cover)
  12. The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole cover) (Brian Setzer solo)
  13. Mystery Chain (Little Junior’s Blue Flames cover)
  14. Put Your Cat Clothes On (Carl Perkins cover)
  15. Fishnet Stockings (Stray Cats cover)
  16. Rockabilly Rudolph
  17. Rock This Town (Stray Cats cover)
  18. Encore: The Nutcracker Suite (Pyotr IIyich Tchaikovsky cover)
  19. Jingle Bells (James Lord Pierpont cover)