When Brian Setzer first thought up the idea of playing San Francisco on Christmas Eve 14 years ago, naysayers told him no-one would come. Well, tonight at the Warfield, he proved them all wrong once again. “Thanks ‘no-one’ for coming tonight!” he jokingly said to the crowd a few songs into the set.
Indeed, the place was packed full of friends and family of all ages that had ditched the traditional Christmas Eve festivities in exchange for a night of dancing along to some of the best rockabilly, a genre that Setzer has brought to the mainstream for decades now.
Along with Seltzer for the ride was an 18 piece orchestra that consisted of a 13 piece horn section, two voluptuous backup singers, a flashy drummer, a laid-back stand-up bassist, and a fantastic keyboard player propped up on a Leopard skin covered piano.
The setlist consisted of a medley of rock-infused Christmas songs like “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Jingle Bells” and “The Christmas Song” but also some classic Stray Cats hits, written by Brian and a band that served as his launching pad almost 50 years ago. “You still like that old Stray Cats stuff, huh?” he told the crowd that night.
Making the show even more memorable was the stage decor, which was adorned with bright colorful neons, martini glasses, and Christmas ornaments. The set looked like what a late 1920s crooner would perform on mixed with a delightfully tacky tiki hut motif.
If you’ve never been to this show do yourself and favor and check it out at least once in your life. The show is fun, the songs are timeless and Brian’s guitar playing is flawless. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed and will find yourself coming back again and again. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if in no time it becomes your new Christmas Eve family tradition like it has for so many in the audience that night.
Photos courtesy of Louis Raphael