As if you couldn't tell from India ink-decorated arms and piled-high, platinum blond DA, former Stray Cats bossman Brian Setzer's got attitude. That's what makes his big band one of the hottest tickets on the swing scene. Unlike other neo-retro outfits that lead clubgoers straight to the past -- when men were men and women were dolls -- The Brian Setzer Orchestra takes the circuitous route. Fueled by the guitarist's blazing rockabilly and punk-spirited roots, the 16-piece ensemble often manages to keep a few dozen or so patent leather toes firmly tapping in the present.
Performs on Thursday, Aug. 10, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $39.50; call 346-6000.
Sleek and punchy, with all cylinders firing at once, the orchestra's new album Vavoom!ups the ante on 1998's Grammy-winner, The Dirty Boogie. Given the success of the last recording, which sold in the seven digits, the six-string slinger was in a position to do pretty much whatever he wanted this time out. So rather than leaning on a lot of tried-and-true cover tunes, Setzer wrote more than a half-dozen originals and amped up a few choice standards.
On the mega-popular, swing-era instrumental "In the Mood," Setzer adds Chuck Berry-inspired verses -- "Jump into my rocket/ 'Cause I'm ready to blast/ I don't know where I'm goin'/ But I'm goin' there fast" -- and a too-brief rap break. Fresh lyrics and high-flying jump 'n' jive arrangements give "Pennsylvania 6-5000" and "Americano" (which you may recognize from The Talented Mr. Ripley) a heightened party-till-dawn glow. Then there are the yowling, classic Brian Setzer themes -- "If You Can't Rock Me," "Drive Like Lightning (Crash Like Thunder)" -- complete with raucous Gretsch leads and a super-hot brass section. It's the kind of Stray Cat swing that never goes out of style.
Check out this week's featured ad for Entertainment