Review: Hugh Laurie

Thebarton Theatre, Thursday April 24

Thebarton Theatre, Thursday April 24

Hugh Laurie might well be the multi-Emmy-winning star of TV’s House MD and a much-loved English funnyman, but he’s a skilled musician too. He took to the Thebby stage in a frilled shirt and mauve suit, with his seven-member Copper Bottom Band, and performed over two-and-a-half hours’ worth of blues classics, jazz standards, selected country numbers and a multilingual take on a tango fave, all with plenty of sweetly funny jokes in between (and even, perhaps, a quick cameo by his dimwitted Prince Regent from Black Adder). Joining the band to the tune of a little What A Man (originally by Linda Lyndell and famously sampled by Salt ‘N’ Pepa) and a lot of Iko Iko (originally by The Belle Stars), Laurie explained that until recently he’d been an actor but he’d always wanted to sing, which he proceeded to do, and gorgeously. There were highlights galore: a rocking take on Come on Baby Let the Good Times Roll; Sister Jean McClain’s blistering version of What Kind of Man Are You? (with Hugh on piano); his joyous rendition of Elvis’ Mystery Train (as he played a mean guitar); and a gutsy performance of I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free (popularised by Nina Simone). The most expensive prop of the night, a microphone that provided suitably old-school distortion, was wheeled out at one point, and Laurie and the boys knocked off Hoagy Carmichael’s Lazy River, and Hugh seemed quite serious as he explained how no one really knows who wrote Careless Love before doing it virtually solo, and beautifully, but his customary good humour was never too far away, especially in the ‘rehydrating whisky’ interlude. An extended and rollicking Green Green Rocky Road (with a grab of Shortnin’ Bread thrown in) was supposedly the final number for the night, but Hugh and the band gleefully returned for Go to the Mardi Gras, Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell and, finally, Changes, a soulful song apparently written by Laurie himself, and a fine demonstration of yet another of the guy’s endlessly envy-inducing talents.

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