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Live Review: Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot

11 April 2012 | 10:07 am | Guido Farnell

Tonight the Palace is awash with retro ‘50s fashion, from wiggle skirts to plenty of leopard print, leather jackets and the odd Teddy Boy drape coat

Treating us to songs from her 2011 debut album To The Horses, Lanie Lane and her band charm the crowd with a faultless set that gets us in a distinctly '50s state of mind. Lane's tunes move from the twang of spaghetti-western country to stomping rockabilly workouts. Her effortless vocals are sultry and sassy yet laden with attitude. Watching Lane transform into a fearsome hellcat after being all eyelash-battingly demure and sweet is a delight. Obvious crowd pleasers include her cover of Janis Martin's Bang Bang and the single What Do I Do.

Tonight the Palace is awash with retro '50s fashion, from wiggle skirts to plenty of leopard print, leather jackets and the odd Teddy Boy drape coat. Lest we forget all the quiffs and tatts on display, it's a reminder that the '80s rockabilly revival – like every other subculture to have emerged from that time – was as much about fashion and lifestyle as the music. Brian Setzer, joined by Noah Levy on drums and the irrepressible Johnny Hatton on double bass, get their rockabilly riot off to a fast and furious start with Ignition which, although culled from Setzer's solo career, sounds like vintage Stray Cats. Hatton, who sports a lime green quiff, once played bass for Elvis back in the late '60s. Tonight he plays his double bass like a maniac. Meanwhile, the ease with which Setzer is able to dispense his super-catchy guitar riffs simply dazzles. The first half of the show showcases Setzer's solo work. '49 Mercury Blues and This Cat's On A Hot Tin Roof jump and jive but they lack the angular, punk edge and nasty sneer of Setzer's earlier work with Stray Cats. Covers of Folsom Prison Blues and Great Balls Of Fire showcase a mellower Setzer sounding a little like Bill Haley. A blistering cover of Carl Perkins' Put Your Cat Clothes On with a banging Jerry Lee Lewis piano riff gets the joint jumping.

Charismatic Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom coaxes an ecstatic response from the audience when he walks on stage. Phantom plays on a fairly minimal drum kit with casual ease, but keeps the beats pumping as he pulls every rockstar pose imaginable. Unashamedly nostalgic, Setzer and Phantom deal a string of Stray Cat hits that starts with Rumble In Brighton. Setzer plays the orange, hundred-dollar guitar he used when he was in Stray Cats all those years ago. Runaway Boys and Sexy And Seventeen add the insolent, brattish punk sneer to proceedings. Stray Cat Strut gives young Melbourne bass player Chris D'Rozario a chance to shine. Not to be outdone by the antics of Phantom and Setzer, he plays with the massive double bass held above his head. A few seconds later he somehow manages to stand on the bass and play, pulling off an astonishing balancing act. The show really gets cooking with an extended version of Fishnet Stockings, which sees Hatton coming back on stage for a wild bass-off with D'Rozario. Not to be outdone, Setzer marches on stage with a sparkly silver double bass and joins the fun. They put on an amazing display of musicianship and their crazy-cool antics set the crowd on fire. Punters are left demanding more when the band finally leave the stage. Rock This Town and a cover of Seven Nights To Rock energetically bring down the night, proving the timeless charm of rockabilly. Truly a night at the hop to remember.