Hugh Laurie brings New Orleans to Chicago
Published: Monday, August 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 23:08
Best known for his role as the infamous Dr. House in “House M.D.,” Hugh Laurie has a his passion for music, especially New Orleans jazz. Along with The Copper Bottom Band, he played at the sold out Chicago’s Park West theatre on Aug. 21 and proceeded to groove into the late hours of the night.
Laurie displayed his acclaimed piano and guitar skills while playing covers of many well-known jazz songs such as “Mellow Down Easy” by Little Walter and “Unchain My Heart” by Ray Charles, to name a few. Laurie’s singing sounds much better live – an unexpected treat. Blues, jazz and soul can be hard for some to sing since so much passion and soul has to be behind it. It may be even harder for a British actor to get into that mindset, but Laurie was able to accomplish this beautifully. Every word he sung was felt throughout the audience. The audience swayed, and a couple even got up and slow danced during his performance.
The show was not merely a performance; it was a history lesson and a comedy show as well. As odd as it sounds for a British actor to know anything about the blues, let alone New Orleans blues, Laurie proved he knew it well. Between each song Laurie would stop and explain either why he choose the song or the story behind it. He was also very intimate with the audience, happily responding to anything yelled at him, which is rare with most musical artists. Many audience members would not let him live down his role as House shouting, “We love you, House!” to which he would respond with, “I have no limp, I’m talking funny, and she still believes I’m a fictional character, strange….” He even offered his band a shot of whiskey midway through the show, which they very much deserved.
The Cotton Bottom Band received high levels of praise from Laurie as the show progressed. After the first song of the night, “Mellow Down Easy,” the audience could easily see this was not the band’s first show. The band, originally from Tennessee, swung right alongside Laurie, sometimes surpassing him, and took the audience on a ride through the South. Each member was given their own solo or song to could shine on, which no one in the band or audience seemed to mind.
“I don’t think you understand how much it means to me to stand here, in Chicago, in front of you all and play,” Laurie spoke in between sets, “I’ve dreamed of this ever since I was a little boy.” He began to get choked up and the entire crowd cheered in an uproar.
After almost every song there was someone out of their seat giving Laurie or the band a standing ovation. Laurie and the band even came back and did two encores for the house, after which, he kindly bowed and pointed straight towards the band behind him.
The tour started in 2011 and showcases Laurie’s first album “Let Them Talk,” which is a cover album. He has traveled all over the world showing off his jazzy repertoire. The tour will be in the Midwest for a few more shows, travelling to Carmel, Indiana; Lexington, Kentucky; and Middletown, Ohio.
To purchase Hugh Laurie’s album or search for tour dates, visit www.hughlaurieblues.com.