Brian Setzer Kickstarts The Holiday Season At UB

DSC_4923Concert Review
Brian Setzer Orchestra
UB Center For The Arts
Amherst, NY
Sunday November 22, 2015
Review/Photos: Joseph Suto


The Brian Setzer Orchestra paid a return visit to UB’s Center for the Arts Sunday evening. The show marked the third year in a row the ensemble has performed at the impeccable venue, making it seem like a tradition is beginning to take shape. The show was a sell out again as Setzer’s 12th annual Christmas tour mixed in holiday favorites along with some select Stray Cats cuts.One cool aspect about the tour is that it coincided with the release of his third Christmas album Rockin’ Rudolph.

Setzer wasted no time delving into his new release. He fittingly opened with the album’s first track, a song made famous by Brenda Lee, “Rockin Around The Christmas Tree”. Perhaps to keep the show a little fresh the Stray Cats classic “Stray Cat Strut” was played early on to help even out the Christmas music.


Setzer surrounded himself with a pair of female singers called The Vixens. The singers helped enhance the show as both Leslie Spencer and Julie Reiten-Setzer (yes she is Brian’s wife) put on a fine performance. As far as the other sixteen members of the Orchestra are concerned those cats can play with anyone. Setzer has put together an amazing set of musicians many of whom were given a brief spotlight segment during the show to strut their stuff. I recognized many of them from the 2013 show I attended.

Although the band is a great collection of musicians, Setzer is the main reason why the shows are well attended. The three-time Grammy Award winner who is known for his rockabilly and swing genres is an innovator. One of the main highlights was on display during the Stray Cats song “Fishnet Stockings”. The trio of Setzer, upright bassist John Hatton and drummer Noah Levy pulled off a remarkable version. To close out the main set the Orchestra played a jazzed up version of the Stray Cats gem “Rock This Town”.

For the first song of his encore Setzer brought out the album’s centerpiece “Yabba-Dabba Yuletide”, for which he very cleverly took the Flintstones theme song and transformed it into a very memorable Christmas song. He also took “The Nutcracker Suite” and reconstructed it to where his band were really able to earn their money.

Setzer seems to outdo himself each year as far as the show goes. Making it an annual event each year seems to make the upcoming holiday season even more enjoyable. It has been quite sometime since Brian Setzer has played a regular show in the Buffalo area. I know that is one thing on many fans Christmas lists for 2016.

Set List
Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
This Cat’s on a Hot Tin Roof
Stray Cat Strut (Stray Cats song)
Boogie Woogie Santa Claus
(She’s) Sexy + 17 (Stray Cats Song)
Here Comes Santa
Sleep Walk
Angels We Have Heard On High
Let’s Shake
Jump, Jive an’ Wail
Jingle Bell Rock
Great Balls Of Fire (Trio + Piano)
Fishnet Stockings (Trio) (Stray Cats Song)
Rockin’ Rudolph (Trio / BSO)
Rock This Town (Stray Cats song)
Yabba Dabba Yuletide
Nutcracker Suite
Jingle Bells

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About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
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