March 31, 2012, 2:44 pm Nicola Heath Yahoo!7 Music

Our Yahoo!7 Music reviewer, Nicola Heath, saw Brian Setzer's rockabilly riot perform at Sydney's Hordern Pavillion.


Brian Setzer. Credit: Getty Images

Rockabilly veteran Brian Setzer has enjoyed a long career as one of the most popular purveyors of the genre which has its roots in fifties America.

Setzer's band is a revolving roster of six or so musicians, with roadies working hard for their money, carting drumkits on and off stage at various times during the show.

Part of the appeal of rockabilly is the accompanying aesthetic: quiffs, and leather jackets for the men, full skirts and red lipstick for women, and tattoos for both.

Brian Setzer and his band certainly looked the part at the Enmore, and treated the audience to a series of costume changes during the two hours they graced the stage. Slim Jim Phantom, who also played with Setzer in the Stray Cats, looked especially sharp in a pink shirt and a purple jacket (showing men, according to Setzer, that they can wear pink and purple).

Setzer has plenty of swagger and all the classic lines. "Drive like lightning and crash like thunder," he drawls, introducing his song of the same name. 'Stray Cat Strut', a hit for Setzer's band Stray Cats in 1981, is a hit as well with the Sydney crowd.

It's no surprise that the band cover 'Put Your Cat Clothes On' by Carl Perkins, one of the pioneers of rockabilly. Perkins' best known song, 'Blue Suede Shoes', was made famous by Elvis Presley.

Covers provided other highlights of the show, including Johnny Cash's 'Folsom Prison Blues' and an energetic rendition of 'Great Balls of Fire', originally recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1957. Setzer paid tribute too to Earl Scruggs, dedicating 'Blue Moon of Kentucky' to the legendary banjo player who died last week.

'Fishnet Stockings' descends into a double bass extravaganza, with three of the formidable instruments on stage at one point. Clearly a man of many talents, Setzer wields a silver double bass, trumping the bass battle waged between Johnny Hatton and Australian Chris D'Rozario. Hatton and D'Rozario almost perform acrobatics on their uprights, hefting them over their heads and surfing them too.

Overall, it's a lively, toe-tapping show that proves without a doubt that rock'n'roll is still alive and kicking.

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  1. Joe O'keefe07:38pm Tuesday 17th April 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Great review...Saw Setzer in Fremantle and it went off! 30 years ago indoors at Embassy Ballroom the Stray Cats went even higher with the whole crowd dancing.