Posts Tagged ‘concerts’

Brian Setzer at Strathmore Hall

Brian Setzer at Strathmore Hall

After avoiding Strathmore Hall for years (a taxpayer protest), this is the third event we’ve been to at Strathmore in two months.

Brian Setzer was there with his big band for a concert billed as a Christmas Extravaganza.  While there were a number of Christmas tunes done up in that Rock & Roll/Big Band/Rockabilly style he’s been doing for a while, there were also a number of his recognizable hits including a few numbers done with the Stray Cats trio of Brian, Bass, and small drum kit.  And, the stage and costumes were all Christmas themed, including a snow machine for the grand finale.

This was our first time seeing Brian live, and we were real close to the stage for an easy view of his playing.  While the style he plays in is somewhat narrow from an electric guitar standpoint, you’d be hard pressed to find a better player as he effortlessly cruises between vintage rock and roll, rockabilly, surf, and swing styles.  He does this with a beautiful vintage guitar rig and a long cable, moving (sometimes running, sometimes almost duckwalking) all across the front of the stage and making great connection to the audience.

The martini glass backdrop, Vegas style lounge jackets, emphasis on swing music, create a very high energy performance that we enjoyed from end to end.  We really enjoyed the hits like Rock This Town and Sexy and Seventeen, and the swing arrangements of the Christmas songs were a lot more fun and a lot less annoying than the endless repetition that drives you insane by the actual holiday (although it is early in the season).  The swing arrangement of the Nutcarcker Suite was fun and creative, and his tribute to Danny Gatton was a great connection to a local player which we enjoyed.

The crowd was a funny mix which we are seeing for this venue, most likely due to the crowd being a mix of fans and theater patrons who are there on a subscription package and not necessarily familiar with the music.  Vocals were a little muddy and hard to hear, which we’re now seeing as typical for this venue, unfortunately.

We ended up in second row center for Randy Travis in Baltimore last week.  Believe it or not, this isn’t necessarily the best vantage point when the stage is higher off the ground.  Kind of like the front row at a movie theater.

Randy Travis signs our CD Case at Pier 6 in Baltimore

Randy Travis signs our CD Case at Pier 6 in Baltimore

But, it has the obvious advantages of being close to the action.  Randy’s band was a collection of aces (some from Nashville, no doubt), including some who have been with him a long time.  And, when you’re this close and the artist is this nice about getting close to the crowd it turns out you can get close enough for an autograph! He’s signing our CD case in this picture.

He played a nice full set with material from all across his career.  This is the second time we’ve seen him – we saw him a few years ago at Wolf Trap and we were so impressed with his stage presence that we wanted to see him again.  He really is a great act to see in person, he seems to work hard to please the crowd, and I really enjoy the more traditional approach to Country & Western music.

He did seem to be getting over a cold a little bit, which was noticable when he talked between songs.  The sound was a little muddy too for the vocals, but this might be another “minus” to sitting close – you’re in front of the sweet spot for the sound system.

IMG_0175Weather was great for an outdoor concert as well.  While Pier 6 isn’t the best venue in how the seats are laid out (long and narrow, so most of the seats seem far from the stage), you can’t beat the location on a nice night watching the sun go down over Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.  And, lots of dining choices near by including Little Italy. Also, camera friendly policy for this performance.

A nice night. The only negative – took forever to get out of town because of some event at the nearby stadium. Detected too late to head out the other side of the harbor.