The Stray Cats is a three man Rockabilly/Rock&Roll group formed in New York in 1979. Consisting of the members Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom. Gathering quite the following in the US before moving to the UK as they heard there was a Teddy Boy Youth (a trend following the 1950s) and Rockabilly revival going on, heavily influenced my Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent and Bill Haley & His Comets.
Blending in nicely with elements of 1950 rockabilly clothes, such as wearing drape jackets, brothel creepers and western shirts with punk clothes, such as tight black zipper trousers and modern versions of 1950s hair styles. They started playing various clubs with various names like the Tomcats, the Teds, and Bryan and the Tom Cats. As clubs back then wouldn’t book the same band mulitple nights. It would take a year or two for them to actually get noticed by labels and by 1981 they were signed with Arista Records in the UK and released their first album “Stray Cats”. They had three hits that year with “Runaway Boys”, “Rock This Town”, and “Stray Cat Strut”. The UK follow-up to Stray Cats, Gonna Ball, was not as well-received, providing no hits. Yet the combined sales of their first two albums were enough to convince EMI America to compile the best tracks from the two UK albums and issue an album (Built for Speed) in the U.S. in 1982. The record went on to sell a million copies (Platinum) in the US and Canada and was the No. 2 record on the Billboard album charts for 26 weeks.
Their success didn’t last for long, after five years, while still at the hight of their fame the Stray Cats broke up and each of the three members pursued their own career with different artists like Bob Dylan and Keith Richards. Returning back as three in 1989, releasing a few albums and breaking up again in 1992.
But finally they got back together and toured Europe in 2004, releasing a dvd and live album with the name Rumble in Brixton (the best music dvd out there and you should buy it if you haven’t already). Only to break up and reunite a couple of times along the way. Brian Setzer touring the world during this time with different groups as a background/support act. On October 2018 the band got back together to remember their 40th anniversary and for this released a new album and set out on a new tour in 2019. July 1st 2019, they finally hit Amsterdam, The Netherlands as a trio and I HAD to get tickets to go see this awesome trio. Already having been to a Brian Setzer show a couple of time I knew how much fun it was going to be but nothing truly beats the Stray Cats as in their original line up.
STRAY CATS 40th Anniversary
Black Box, 20:00
AFAS Live, Amsterdam
The show started at 8 o’clock but as the Dutch rock&roll/country/rockabilly artist Danny Vera was playing we decided to hang out in our hotel room a little longer because for some reason we don’t really like him. Arriving just before the show started we noticed it was absolutely packed with people dressed in the Rockabilly fashion and ended up finding somewhere to sit because, we’re small and there was a broken ankle amidst us. The show started and right away the party started, everyone was dancing and singing along.
It didn’t take long before the seats were rocking with everyone moving simultanious to the beat of the music. All there was were three men on stage with their instruments and a flashing sign that said Stray Cats and the large cat logo behind them. The only thing that wasn’t so much fun is that were no screens so it was a little bit harder to see where we were sitting. Thought that didn’t stop anyone from fully enjoying this awesome show.
With the drummer Slim Jim standing while drumming and dancing around his kit when he had the chance, Brian Setzer shredding his guitar and Lee Rocker standing on his Bass, having Brian stand on it while playing and lifting it over his shoulder, we didn’t need much else. It was perfect.
1. Cat Fight (Over a Dog Like Me)
2. Runaway Boys
3. Double Talkin’ Baby (Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps cover)
4. Three Time’s a Charm
5. Stray Cat Strut
6. Mean Pickin’ Mama
7. Gene & Eddie
8. Cry Baby
9. I Won’t Stand In Your Way
10. Guitar Improvisation / Misirlou
11. When Nothing’s Going Right (vocals: Lee Rocker)
12. (She’s) Sexy + 17
13. Bring It Back Again (vocals: Lee Rocker)
14. My One Desire (Dorsey Burnette cover)
15. Blast Off
16. Lust n Love
17. Fishnet Stockings
18. Rock This Town
19. Rock It Off
20. Built for Speed
21. Rumble in Brighton
Even though they played 21 songs, it didn’t feel like it and the show was over far too soon for my liking, I wasn’t the only one, after we all filed out of the music hall there was a DJ playing in the bar next to it (still in AFAS) DJ Miss Twist, She played a lot of Rockabilly music and everyone was dancing around. it was a joy to watch young and old lose their minds even after the show.