Stray Cats at the Hammersmith Apollo: The rockabilly boys strut their stuff
Celebrating 40 years in the business, rockabilly punks singer/guitarist Brian Setzer, drummer Slim Jim Phantom and upright bass player Lee Rocker appeared for the second consecutive night at the Hammersmith Apollo on 27th June in support of their new album, 40.
Taking the stage to the strains of Eddie Cochran’s C’mon Everybody at the very inconsiderate time of 9.30pm (don’t the organisers realise that people have trains to catch?!), following two support acts – the second of whom was two-tone icons The Selector – the three larger-than-life characters immediately demonstrated their explosive talents as musicians, along with the seemingly telepathic connection that makes them such a great band, on opening track Cat Fight (Over a Dog Like Me) off the new record.
The crowd, many of whom were decked out in 50s-style clothing, roared their approval as the hotshot threesome launched into Runaway Boys, their first ever single, which was released back in 1980. “Are you cats ready for a little rockabilly?” asked Setzer. It’s safe to say that most of the audience – who sounded in fine voice, especially on the excellent Stray Cat Strut – were.
Ahead of Three Times a Charm, another track off the new album, Setzer and Phantom revealed that the second Gene Vincent album had inspired the boys to write the song. Gene and Eddie, a Stray Cats classic from 1989, was a further nod to the trio’s late musical heroes. “London, you guys kept Gene and Eddie alive, do you know that?” said Setzer.
It was great to see the group perform live and their energy, enthusiasm and musical interplay was a pleasure to witness. Each member demonstrated stunning ability on their chosen instrument and Setzer’s sublime guitar playing really made the instrument sing.
Lee Rocker gave solid vocal performances on two tracks (When Nothing’s Going Right and Bring It Back Again) and it was difficult to answer in the negative when Setzer, signalling to the two very agile men either side of him, asked, “This band is smoking tonight, what do you think?”
Top band, top tunes. What a shame that many of us had to leave early.
Photo: Suzie Kaplan
For further information and future events visit Stray Cats’s website here.
Watch the video for Stray Cat Strut here: