Early on in his and his band's performance Saturday night at the Majestic Theatre, Brian Setzer admitted it was the first time the Brian Setzer Orchestra brought its annual Christmas show to San Antonio. By the near end of the concert, Setzer suggested that he and his band should come to San Antonio more often .And why not? The crowd, which featured 50 and 60-somethings to pre-teens, welcomed Setzer and his crew with open arms and the holiday spirit.
Complete with illuminated Christmas trees in the background, a Brian Setzer Orchestra's "Christmas Rocks!" show did just that. Things got off to a raucous beginning with "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." Setzer dived effortlessly into classic holiday songs, a few of which can be heard on his band's new themed album, "Rockin' Rudolph," such as "Here Comes Santa Claus."
But drawing upon past Christmas albums, the Brian Setzer Orchestra played "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus," "Jingle Bells," "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Jingle Bell Rock." But for those who needed a lesson in rockabilly, Setzer supplied it in droves -- early and often. He recalled his Stray Cats days with "Stray Cat Strut," "Rock This Town" and "(She's) Sexy + 17."
Those selections were particularly popular with audience members who were of age when Stray Cats helped to bring rockabilly to mainstream/popular radio in the early `80s. Nineties rockabilly nostalgia was to be had when the orchestra played "Jump, Jive an' Wail" and "This Cat's on a Hot Tin Roof." Midway through the set, Setzer played a very fun original, "Let's Shake," and practically made his guitar sing with a beautiful cover of Santo and Johnny's "Sleep Walk."
Brian Setzer Orchestra rounded out the evening with an encore that included "Yabba Dabba Yuletide," the "Flintstones"-inspired song from "Rockin' Rudolph" and a well-conducted big band version of "The Nutcracker Suite," as Setzer read from a long sheet of music to guide himself and his bandmates. Setzer and his band mates dressed alternately in green jackets, then orange-red jackets with stripes, balanced the spirits of Christmas and rockabilly.
As "snow" drifted down from high above in the Majestic Theatre in the encore, the Brian Setzer Orchestra closed a high-energy show and proved that the holidays - yes, wait for it - do indeed rock.