Brian Setzer Orchestra at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, MI

The Brian Setzer Orchestra bring tidings of be-boppin cheer and holiday “hipness” to the rock-a-billy rebels of the Motor City.

Just as Michigan’s first blast of blustery winter blows through the Metropolitan Detroit area, tiny reindeer foot prints are discovered in the snow, in front of the legendary Fox Theater.  It has been confirmed that Santa’s sleigh has arrived, and is packed with nineteen talented musicians… and the king kool-kat himself, Brian Setzer.  The Brian Setzer Orchestra has brought the 15th installment of the much-acclaimed Christmas Rocks Tour to the Motor City to spread much needed holiday cheer to all of the good little girls and boys (and grown-ups!)

Pom Aide pompadours and preening pin-up Paiges all adorned in swinging holiday swag are lined up and waiting to file into the Fox Theater.  Michigan has graciously added to the scene, with snow flakes and thirty degree temperatures.  Despite the winter wonderland status, warm and plentiful Christmas cheer is here. Fans “with their eyes all a glow,” clutch their entry ticket with gloved hands while sporting smiles of Christmas morning like anticipation of the night’s event.  

Ready for the show to begin, the massive stage at the Fox is decorated as bold and brightly as a Macy’s parade.  Snowmen, candy canes, and stockings hung with care complete the ambiance as the stage lights come to life with bright beams of red and green light.  Nineteen sequined Setzerites march in from side stage much like a horde of Christmas elves ready to load Santa’s sleigh.  The crowd roars to life as the troop takes their positions for the evenings event.  All the ingredients are here: trumpets, trombones, saxophones, do-wop singers… and the final ingredient… Brian Setzer.  Without further ado, the orchestral leader and guitar slinger extraordinaire casually waltzes across the stage.  Adorned in a snake skin style zoot-suit, and a purple shirt, Setzer blasts the crowd with his boyish smile as he waves to the adoring fans.  “Hello Detroit… How ya doin?” asks Setzer.  The crowds applause peaks at an almost deafening level, extracting a bigger grin from Brian.  The band back-beat is already underway, and Brian opens the night with the Oscar McLollie and the Honey Jumpers cover of “Dig That Crazy Santa Claus.”  The band transitions into the Brenda Lee classic “Rockin Around The Christmas Tree,”  and Brian now grabs the classic vintage Gretsch that he is know for, and that vintage tone blasts across the Fox Theater like Noreaster.  Next, be-boppers get to toe-tappin when “In The Mood” surprises fans with it’s catchy and hornful intro.  At this point we see fans are now standing, hopping and a bopping to the huge sound this Orchestra produces.  

Before anyone can sit back down, BSO follows with the Stray Cats’ mega-hit, “Stray Cat Strut.”  Interpretive, cat-like dances begin across the theater, as concert-goers sing along with Brian’s vocals.  The night presses on with a total of ninety minutes of material.  The Stray cat classics “Gene and Eddie,” and “Run Away Boys,” are big hits with the audience as is an extended version of the Louis Prima tune, “Jump Jive and Wail.”  Throughout the evening, the Orchestra shares spotlight solo moments, with all of the seasoned players having a moment center stage to play off Setzer’s brilliantly executed guitar solos.  An unexpected and tasteful surprise came as the band performed a cover of the Merle Kilgore tune made famous by Johnny Cash, “Ring Of Fire.”  Brian gave a very convincing vocal performance that had everyone singing along in unison.  

Nearly ninety minutes later, the Brian Setzer Orchestra brings the night to a close with the holiday favorite “Jingle Bells.”  The last note rings tall, as the band takes a final bow for the cheering fans.  The Brian Setzer Orchestra “Christmas Rocks Tour” is a highly recommended concert experience, full of holiday cheer, and a few surprises that must be seen in person (no spoiler alert, go see for yourself!)  Details on tour dates and upcoming performances can be found on the band’s website.

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About Jay Dunbar 29 Articles
Jay Dunbar is a professional photographer that enjoys wearing a multitude of hats. He is active in the commercial and stock photography arenas and currently owns and operates a Detroit based investigations firm and photography agency. Despite his many endeavors, Jay can frequently be found in attendance at your favorite concert venues, capturing breathtaking images of live performances of many genres of music. A skilled author and photographer, he could be described as a " Serial Music Journalist." Carrying the photo bug for nearly thirty years, Jay enjoys all styles of photography, testing new gear, and helping aspiring photographers, artists and models to develop their skills and learn their craft.

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