Classic Rock

Stray Cats

London Hammersmit­h Apollo

- Julian Marszalek

Rockabilly veterans rock this town – and rock it inside out.

While the name of the venue has changed more than once, little about Stray Cats has altered in the four decades since they formed in the Long Island town of Massapequa before moving to the UK. So while the same set of lunatics are running the asylum, there’s a comfort to be had in the knowledge that the trio can still blow up a storm with 40, their first studio album in 26 years.

But it’s in a live setting that Stray Cats truly flourish. Opening with new material might be a big ask but, much like Slim Jim Phantom’s never-expanding waistline, Lee Rocker’s taste in outlandish glasses and Brian Setzer’s gravity-defying quiff, Cat Fight (Over A Dog Like Me) finds the band in dependably familiar rockabilly territory. That’s followed swiftly by Runaway Boys’ hoodlum smarts, and the joint is soon rockin’ and sweatin’ in equal measure.

Phantom and Rocker’s respective bass slaps and upright snare snaps are the foundation from which Setzer lets rip on his signature Gretsch guitar. Be it picking, plucking or twanging, his playing aims straight for hips that refuse to remain still, and old favourites Rock This Town and a devastatin­g Fishnet Stockings become irresistib­le calls for bopping.

Like a ’41 Ford (not a ’59), Stray Cats are a design classic that’s still capable of putting in the mileage – and more.

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