Monday, December 24, 2007

Brian Setzer Orchestra at the Gibson Amphitheatre

It just doesn't feel like Christmas until I attend a Brian Setzer Christmas Extravaganza show. I have attended at least five out of six Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza shows. I was also fortunate to be in the pit at the Greek Theatre to see Joe Strummer open for Brian Setzer Orchestra in 2001 as well as seeing last year's show.  The holiday spirit filled the air as I walked into Gibson Amphitheatre.

Dibbs Preston and The Detonators

Dibbs Preston and the Detonators started the evening with their rockabilly alternative country vibe. Ross Rhoades(Slap Bass) was plucking and slapping away at his upright bass. Dibbs (Guitars/Vocals) had his Fender Telecaster on ultra twang mode with an accompanying lap steel guitar player. Dibbs mentioned a few times in his set that he would be between Doors 8-10 of the theatre signing his new cd that you can order through their website via paypal.

Brian Setzer Orchestra

Brian Setzer has his own custom Gretsch guitar for a reason. He makes me want to quit playing guitar because he makes it look so effortless. The curtain raised to reveal the Orchestra seated in front of a screen that looked like a giant snowglobe with projected snow falling in the background. Brian debuted a new red sparkle holiday flavored Gretsch for a blazing version of "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus". It is a sight to behold to see the whole orchestra in action with Brian energetically leading them on. The song was extended with Brian ripping off a guitar solo that melted into a saxophone solo followed up by a trombone solo topped with a trumpet solo.

I shook my head in disbelief as Brian stunned the crowd with a scintillating version of "Honey Man" which is adapted from the classic song "Flight of the Bumblebee". I think I saw smoke coming from Brian Setzer's fingers at one point. Brian jokingly said "How about something easier?" as he started off the chords to the "Stray Cat Strut" . The screen behind the orchestra changed to the classic video playing in unison to the song. The song transitioned to "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and featured the Grinch running out on stage for a brief moment. "Jump Jive An' Wail" also had the video behind it playing along with Brian commenting that "It's MTV when they used to show videos".

The curtain would later drop to give the orchestra a well deserved rest as Brian downsized to an upright bass and small drum kit to take on some old classic tunes. "This Cat's On A Hot Tin Roof" was a crowd favorite and had some swing dancing breaking out in the pit area. "Gene and Eddie" showed that Brian didn't let up on the gas pedal as they zoomed through the foot stomping and hip shaking number. Brian dipped back into the Stray Cats catalog with "Fishnet Stockings" that ended with all three members laying their instruments on the ground as if they were dead. "Route 66" was next and sounded nothing like Depeche Mode's version of the song.

"Rock This Town" got the whole audience up out of their seats. Brian took a quick break before coming back out for the encore. I believe I raved about "The Nutcracker Suite" in last year's review so there is nothing more to add. Brian's two daughters were running across the stage at various points during the encore to the delight and laughter of some the Orchestra members. "Gettin' In The Mood" closed out the evening with a large ovation from the crowd. Brian was in such a good mood he even signed some autographs for some of the audience members in the front row . It seemed like Brian couldn't stop smiling. I knew I should have attended both nights.

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