Brian Setzer Orchestra Rocks Phoenix
Dec. 15, 2018 - It was an evening of rockabilly merrymaking as The Brian Setzer Orchestra brought their "Christmas Rocks! 15th Anniversary Tour" to the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, the band's longtime favorite Arizona venue. Kingston, New York's roots rockers Lara Hope and the Ark-Tones opened the show.
Hope opened her portion of the show with a sassy rockabilly number, "Fast, Cheap, or Well Done" and continued on with a high energy set that included "Dr. Bartender," complete with an ominous opening that conjured the "shark is coming" music from "Jaws," the slappin' bass fiesta that is "I'm the One" and the title cut from the band's "Love You to Life" album. When not at the mic singing, Hope danced around the stage and urged fans to dance as well; Celebrity Theatre had thoughtfully removed the first three rows of seating so that fans could kick up their heels. Hope's set also included the amusingly-titled "I Believe You, Liar," the title cut from the band's Luck Maker album and "Whiskey Pick," a song about being too drunk to play guitar. The Ark-Tones set was brief but potent and a perfect warm up for Setzer and company.
After opening with three holiday tunes, "Dig That Crazy Santa Claus," "Rockin' around the Christmas Tree" and "Gettin' in the Mood (For Christmas)", Setzer took a minute to address the crowd and give Celebrity Theatre's intimate in-the-round setting some love, saying, "We play a lot of concerts and this is the only one that really feels like a Christmas party." The big band, featuring an eight-person horn section, really swung on a run through of "Stray Cat Strut," the first of several Stray Cats covers and other non-Christmas songs. With horn players being extremely animated and taking lots of solos and crazy antics from the upright bass player, there was lots of action on stage, which also happened to feature uniquely-lit props. Setzer and his hot guitar playing were of course at the center of it all.
The festive show was about a 50-50 mix of Christmas and non-holiday songs; among the straight rockabilly and roots rocking numbers were "Gene and Eddie," a tribute to early rockabilly stars Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, "The Dirty Boogie," "Rock Billy Boogie," "Jump Jive an' Wail," "Runaway Boys" and "Fishnet Stockings." Setzer also showed off his finger picking ability during a tribute to the late Roy Clark, played the Beatles' "Hey Bulldog" and vamped up a storm on "Ring of Fire." Mixed in were Christmas cuts "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)." While the band and back-up singers took breaks late in the show, Setzer held the audience rapt through the closing number which was the big Stray Cats hit "Rock This Town." A snippet of the "Nutcracker Suite" and "Jingle Bells" served as the encore; no doubt many in the audience were already looking forward to Brian and the gang returning to Celebrity Theatre in 2019.
Upcoming shows at Celebrity Theatre in 2019 include:
Jan. 11 and 12 - Styx
Jan. 19 and 20 - Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
Jan. 25 - Kris Kristofferson & the Strangers
Feb. 9 - Jim Jeffries
Feb. 12 - Chicago
Feb. 22 - Amy Grant
March 17 - Gordon Lightfoot
Apr. 5 - Buddy Guy and Jimmie Vaughan
For a complete list of shows coming to Celebrity Theatre go here
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