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Concert Reviews:
Brian Setzer gets Christmas season rockin' at The Fox
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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But on Wednesday night, Nov. 15, at The Fox Theatre, the Brian Setzer Orchestra made a damp ‘n’ dank mid-fall night seem like the most wonderful time the year.

Related: Brian Setzer Orchestra at The Fox, 5 Things To Know

A combination of big band precision and rock ‘n’ roll fury is the dapper, 19-piece ensemble’s stock-in-trade, and when it’s unleashed on a set of seasonal classics -- seven of Wednesday’s 19 songs, including a swingin’ recreating of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” -- Setzer and company make it sound like music you can listen to year-round. Add a sense of genuine fun and just enough exuberant schtick, and the BSO’s Rockin’ Christmas plants a pretty convincing flag in the ground as the best touring holiday show out there.

Setzer shed enough spotlight on the band members to make sure the show wasn’t just about him, mind you, but it’s billed this way for a reason. He sang crooner smooth and with rockabilly howl, and he played his guitar with demonic (and nimble) ferocity, especially on extended renditions of Mabel Scott’s “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” and his old band the Stray Cats’ “Fishnet Stockings,” which found him balancing atop the bass drum at one point and on the upright bass o the other. He was genial and jovial, but always in control and in command of the tight arrangements behind him.

And if you wanted some tears, or at least goosebumps, Setzer offered mid-show tributes to Glen Campbell (a sublime “Wichita Lineman”) and Tom Petty (a slamming “Runnin’ Down A Dream”) before his intimate solo rendition of Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire).”

Most of the night was high-octane, however. Flanked by large statues of Santa Claus and a snowman, as well as toy soldiers, Christmas trees, wrapped presents and poinsettia plants, Setzer and company came out swinging, literally, with Glen Miller’s “Pennsylvania 6-5000” and alternated between holiday favorites and Stray Cats material; Late in the show he stripped down to a quartet and then a trio for the likes of “Rockabilly Boogie” and “I Got a Rocket In My Pocket.”

A real-life Santa Claus helped finish the night by tossing candy canes to the crowd as the BSO vamped through “Jingle Bells.” And while the weather outside was still frightful, Setzer proved, yes, delightful, delivering 95 minutes of pre-holiday cheer that made Wednesday seem like just the right time to get in the spirit.



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