Brian Setzer, the three-time GRAMMY Award winning sometime Stray Cat, and leader of the Brian Setzer Orchestra brought his eighteen piece orchestra to the Belly Up Tavern in the Cedros Design District of Solana Beach, CA for a sold-out show on April 3, 2011.
The Brian Setzer Orchestra played a rescheduled show at Agua Caliente Resort in Palm Springs, CA on April 2nd, to make up for a cancelled New Year’s Eve performance from last year when Setzer became ill and added the Solana Beach show as Setzer prepares to launch his next musical venture, Setzer Goes Instru-Mental, out on April 19th via Surfdog Records with MP3 pre-order available now via Amazon with special edition vinyl and CD versions available from the Surfdog shop.
Setzer will hit the road crisscrossing Europe during June and July with Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot featuring Stray Cat Slim Jim Phantom on drums, as well as Noah Levy on drums; Chris D’Rozario on bass; Brian Setzer on guitar and vocals; Kevin McKendree on Piano; and Johnny “Spazz” Hatton on bass. Double the stand up bass and the double the drums looks to be a rockabilly good time for Setzer’s fans in Europe this summer!
Back to the task at hand – Setzer, his Orchestra and his Vixens (back up singers Julie Setzer and Leslie Spencer) blowing the roof off the Belly Up Tavern last night. Wow, what a treat to see this guitar legend play such an intimate venue that only holds 600 people! Many of their shows of late have been to really big audiences such as the Doheny Blues Festival with an audience of about 20,000 blues loving fans and the Montreal Jazz Festival with well over 100, 000 swaying to the smooth jazz sounds music loving fans.
Setzer recognized a lot of faces in the crowd and told the audience it felt like he was playing in his living room at home as he called out hello’s to a few friends in the crowd. He was the consummate professional as a liquor loving lush with long blonde hair did her best Willow Smith Whip My Hair impersonations in the front row and tried to grab, many times, not Setzer, but his guitar. Yes, attempting to grab the Gretsch as Setzer’s fingers worked their magic! However, being a 30-year music veteran the guitar legend knew how to swiftly retreat from her many drunken advances.
There was also the muffin top baring, 49-year-old woman who nearly pulled him off the stage in her drunken super power strength to declare to him that she would be turning 50 the next day. Gracious as ever, Setzer wished her happy birthday over the microphone while reminding the audience he’s been 50 three times now.
I do digress on the drunken lot of women in attendance though, but seriously, do they even remember the awesome show they attended last night?
Back to the music. Setzer, and his fantastic band were in fine form last night. Really, really on fire figuratively, and almost literally as the Belly Up turned into a sauna for the searing one-hour and forty-five minute set that dealt nary a sour note the entire evening. The Brian Setzer Orchestra revved things up and got the audience boogie-ing to their energetic rockabilly sounds before they departed the stage and let the Brian Setzer Trio take over which includes Johnny “Spazz” Hatton on stand-up bass and fill in drummer, Danny Glass from Royal Crown Revue and Setzer rockin’ the roof off the joint!
The two versions of Setzer’s band covered songs across his illustrious 30 year, award-winning career including the Stray Cats hit Sexy & 17, The Dirty Boogie and Sleepwalk along with Red Hot and Gene & Eddie. The Brian Setzer Trio seamlessly brought the Orchestra back on stage to crowd pleasing roar as the band gave us a medley of the Stray Cat Strut with the Pink Panther theme.
The full band then brought the house down as they launched in early hits like Rumble in Brighton and Rock This Town along with the 90’s hit Jump Jive An’ Wail from the Dirty Boogie album. Setzer is the kind of musician that oozes love for his craft while playing on stage. You can see the smile spread across his face when he knows he’s hitting it out of the ballpark. He doesn’t look like just another musician getting through the live show. It was a stellar show of fine musicianship, one for the books as they say.
The always busy Setzer will also do his annual Christmas shows this year and has already confirmed a December 17th date at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.
He’s also got a new track from his forthcoming album Setzer Goes Instru-Mental, called Go-Go Godzilla on the soundtrack for the upcoming movie Soul Surfer starring AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid. Soul Surfer opens in theaters April 8th.
For a complete list of European tour dates and Christmas dates as they become available, check out Brian’s site.