This year might mark Brian Setzer Orchestra’s “12th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour,” but it earns the distinction of being the first in ten years supported by new holiday music. Between 2002’s “Boogie Woogie Christmas,” 2005’s “Dig That Crazy Christmas,” 2015’s “Rockin’ Rudolph,” plus a sea of solo, band and Stray Cats songs, the rockabilly/jump swing revivalist had loads of material for a full house at the immaculately restored Genesee Theatre in Waukegan.
Some other less famous but just as fantastic segments included a rollicking, Stay Cats-styled jam through “Fishnet Stockings” and the comical current tune “Yabba-Dabba Yuletide” (think “The Flintstones” meets seasonal swing).
Along with a 16-piece band and two backing vixens, Setzer came out swinging with “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” “This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof” and “Stray Cat Strut” on a bandstand filled with kitschy cool snowman, toy soldiers, trees and rotating backdrops. After so many Yuletide-themed tours, everything ran like clockwork, but the 90-minute night was also packed with freshness, including a modern day big band version of “Here Comes Santa Claus” and many others from this year’s collection.
The trope also tipped its hat towards the “Million Dollar Quartet” era for Setzer’s own “Let’s Shake” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls Of Fire,” while also peppering “Rockin’ Rudolph” with shades of “James Bond” and turning “The Nutcracker Suite” totally upside down for the better (at least for rock n’ rollers). The singer/guitar slinger naturally tackled “Jump Jive An’ Wail” and “Rock This Town,” the latter of which found the beat keeper banging so hard that part of the drum kit tumbled over, though he kept his cool to finish the solo with the remaining pieces.
Some other less famous but just as fantastic segments included a rollicking, Stay Cats-styled jam through “Fishnet Stockings” and the comical current tune “Yabba-Dabba Yuletide” (think “The Flintstones” meets seasonal swing). And then there was “Jingle Bells,” one of the most frequently covered songs across the ages that was jazzed up to be miles more festive than so many others, further indicating Setzer and company’s Christmas kick-off is a truly a celebration like no other.
Upcoming concert highlights at the Genesee Theatre include Christopher Cross (Nov. 22); Richard Marx (Dec. 4); Michael Bolton (Dec. 8); Darlene Love (Dec. 16); Dennis DeYoung & The Music Of Styx (Feb. 13); “Jethro Tull: The Rock Opera” written and performed by Ian Anderson (Apr. 1) and David Sanborn (Apr. 7). For additional details, visit www.geneseetheatre.com and www.ticketmaster.com.