At their gig at the Greek, retro singer-guitarist Brian Setzer and his big band offered very little beyond what we’ve seen and heard at the venerable and scenic Los Feliz venue in previous years.
Sure, there were a couple of OK new Setzer jump-blues originals from his just-released “Va-Voom” (Interscope) album, one of which even includes some hip-hop flavor. And he did also add new life to some old cover tunes, like “Pennsylvania 6-5000.” Setzer always kills them with his orchestra version of “Rumble in Brighton,” and “The Footloose Doll” even featured two female backup singers, a Setzer first.
But the overall appeal of this brand of neo-swing is fading faster than the slicked hairstyles favored by so many of the nostalgic aud members, many of whom arrived in the classic cars and hot rods that were on display out front. Indeed, Setzer made little effort on Saturday to give the people anything more than exactly what they expected.
The best part of the 100-minute show, and the first time the crowd got up out of their chairs, came halfway through when the army of sax, trombone and trumpet players took their leave, and Setzer led upright bassist Tony Garnier and his fabulous longtime drummer Bernie Dresel — Stray Cats-style at the front of the large stage — through such faves as “Rock This Town” and a solid cover of the unbeatable “Mystery Train.”
Show ended on a flat note, though, with what Setzer calls “Gettin’ in the Mood,” an ill-conceived rework of the swing classic “In the Mood” — sporting goofy new Setzer lyrics (“you gotta make my heart start beatin’ flippity-flop”) as well as a rap lip-synched by one of the horn players — that pales even in comparison with Barry Manilow’s lyricized version.