Rockabilly Rudolph in Reno with Brian Setzer Orchestra
Well, that was cool!
The Brian Setzer Orchestra arrived for a Christmas Eve eve appearance at The Grand Sierra Resort and there is absolutely no way not to be in the holiday spirit after sitting through this show.
The 19-piece orchestra kicked it off with the trio of “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” “Hoodoo Voodoo Doll,” and Setzer’s classic “Stray Cat Strut,” and the energy never subsided. What a gas.
This is the 13th annual Christmas Rocks tour for the Brian Setzer Orchestra. The show was a feast of classic holiday music in rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly style, Stray Cats tunes and some other hipped-up servings.
The setting included a life-size Frosty the Snowman in full top hat and holiday regalia on one corner of the stage, Santa ringing a bell on the other, four towering Christmas trees and numerous poinsettias and holiday gifts all over the place.
Setzer shared stories of the band’s beginnings. He noted that, 24 years ago, nobody gave the orchestra a chance. Setzer told critics all he needed was a little luck, and he got it with his 1998 hit cover of Louis Prima’s “Jump Jive an’ Wail” on his BSO release “The Dirty Boogie.” During another interlude, a man near me kept yelling “Switchblade,” as if it were request time. After about of his four shouts, a young girl’s voice rang out “Jingle Bells.” Little did she know, “Jingle Bells” was to be the show closer.
In his career, Brian Setzer has revived both rockabilly and big band swing. He truly found his niche with his annual Christmas show. Organizing, rehearsing and taking a 19-piece band on the road is no easy task. To my ears, the show sounded great. Vocals were right on, horn harmonies were clean … but there was that one moment in “Angels We Have On High.” After a climb up through three or four modulations, somebody’s guitar solo started in the wrong key. I’m not naming names, but it looks a lot like Brian Setzer. It happens, but as a true professional should, he barreled ahead undaunted.
Late in the show, Setzer delivered a solo performance of “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts Roasting…) after which his bassist and drummer came frontstage and, in Stray Cats trio style, played “Put Your Cat Clothes On,” “Fishnet Stockings” and “Rockabilly Rudolph.”
The highlights were many, but a couple of them deserve recognition: “Jump, Jive an’ Wail,” which got everybody going, and “Rock This Town,” which did the same. The first song in the encore was a magnificently scored, jazzed-up rendition of “The Nutcracker Suite.” Setzer conducted portions of the composition. The show ended with the orchestra’s own rocked up, hipped up version of “Jingle Bells” — complete with Santa Claus running around the stage, dancing and tossing goodies to the crowd.
It was not a silent night, but rather a wholly enjoyable night.
Brian Setzer Orchestra
Dec. 23, 2016, Grand Sierra Resort
Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
Hoodoo Voodoo Doll
Stray Cat Strut
Boogie Woogie Santa Claus
Gene and Eddie
Here Comes Santa Claus
Angels We Have Heard On High (In Excelsis Deo)
The Dirty Boogie
Jump, Jive an’ Wail
Let There Be Rock
The Christmas Song
Put Your Cat Clothes On
Rock This Town
ABOUT Nick McCabe
Nick McCabe is a musician, photographer and writer from Reno. He is the editor of the music website Front Row Photo. He plays in a seven-piece band, Apothic.
Heavy snow will impact mountain travel this weekend. Snow will begin midday tomorrow with the majority of this snow falling on Sunday. Let's take a look at the forecast for tomorrow - Monday, starting with I-80 & Hwy 50 where near-whiteout conditions are likely on Sunday. #CAwx