Wednesday 3 July 2019

On Stage: Stray Cats @ AFAS Live

I was still a little laddie when Stray Cats lived through their glory days at the beginning of the eighties. They already had disbanded for a while when I started going to concerts. They had a couple of reunions, including a farewell tour in 2008/2009, but I was never able to catch them. I also never got to see The Brian Setzer Orchestra somehow, although they passed through our country several times. Fortunately Stray Cats got back together for a 40th anniversary tour, recorded a new album and are playing a short metro ride away. Time to rock!

Stray Cats at AFAS Live Amsterdam, July 1 2019

When we get to the venue we find out many people have come early to catch support act Danny Vera. As a big Stray Cats fan himself of course he's over the moon to play here warming up the crowd for his big heroes. He's doing a great job with his heartfelt rock songs. The three Stray Cats are greeted by a rock 'n' roll hungry crowd, with some people dressed for the occasion. This is also a phone filming crowd too, as many phones go up in the air, especially in the beginning. It's not that often they get to see this band play live I guess. The three rockers start playing a new song 'Cat Fight (Over a Dog Like Me)' with a big smile that hardly ever leaves their face. These guys clearly are enjoying playing together again.

Although a couple of new songs are on the setlist, the trio mostly play their big hits with my personal favourite 'Runaway Boys' early in the set. The band understands that this is a crowd that wants to see them rock out their best work, so the new songs are scattered around the setlist. The hit songs haven't lost anything of their charm and magic, even though some of them are fourty years old. Most of them are still little rockabilly gems, that have stood the test of time.

All combined it turns the night in a cheerful one, with a enthusiastic crowd who are dancing, singing and clapping along. Brian Setzer is an incredible guitar player with mind blowing solos and very fast fingers. He's showcasing his skills in a little guitar improvisation halfway the show and doesn't even shy away from a convincing version of Dick Dale's 'Misirlou', the famous surf rock musician who passed away only a few months ago. Lee Rocker is plucking away on his double bass for that wonderful rockabilly sound that is so hard to resist. He's dragging the bass across stage, picks it up, lets Setzer rock on top of it and also sings a couple of songs. Slim Jim Phantom is playing his drums with great ease and in a loose way, standing in his usual relaxed fashion behind his kit. Now and then he will walk away from it, only playing the beat by hitting his sticks together.

This show has everything that is to like about this unique band, that conquered the world with their catchy rock music. They have been copied many times, but I don't think anyone ever came near them. All three are incredible musicians that make it look and sound so simple. But it's very clever and skilled what they are doing. It has been amazing finally seeing this band play and before I know it the trio is back on stage for a three song encore. When we leave the venue I only see happy faces around me in the lovely crowd that only spread good vibes tonight.

All Pictures

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01. Cat Fight (Over a Dog Like Me)
02. Runaway Boys
03. Double Talkin' Baby
04. Three Time’s a Charm
05. Stray Cat Strut
06. Mean Pickin’ Mama
07. Gene & Eddie
08. Cry Baby
09. I Won't Stand In Your Way
10. Guitar Improvisation
11. Misirlou
12. When Nothing’s Going Right
13. (She's) Sexy + 17
14. Bring It Back Again
15. My One Desire
16. Blast Off
17. Lust n Love
18. Fishnet Stockings
19. Rock This Town
20. Rock It Off
21. Built for Speed
22. Rumble in Brighton

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