Hugh Laurie drops jaws at the Palladium

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Most know of Hugh Laurie from his outstanding work as the dysfunctional, pill-popping savant Dr. House. Although in the TV series there were glimpses of him behind the grand piano in his studio apartment, most may have assumed that was staged and not his actual playing. After his Aug. 22 performance at the Palladium, it’s easy to understand it is not post-production smoke and mirrors.

Laurie entered the stage with a bow to the audience and a nod to the house.

“This is a magnificent building. We are not worthy… the building is overdressed,” said Laurie. “Until recently I was an actor and that doesn’t deserve a round of applause. No matter how badly I mess up, and I will, you are in good hands with my flight crew; look at me, listen to them.”

To start the show, he wound up and pulled his microphone as if it was a lawn mower, which responded with a slow beat growing into a rumbling rendition of “Mellow Down Easy.” He said it’s a good starter song to make sure no one pulls a muscle; Mr. Laurie had a number of hilarious one-liners throughout the performance.

The stage was adorned with table lamps of all ages and styles, some on the floor and some atop amps or tables. One such table stood stage left behind the grand piano with a caricature sketch next to a stuffed rooster looking up a lampshade, odd yet comfortable. Left to right on stage was Hugh on the piano (he also played the acoustic guitar) then Jean McClain on backing vocals, David Piltch on the upright bass, Jay Bellerose on drums aging from the 1940s, Kevin Breit on lead guitar, Vincent Henry on horns and finally on far right, Patrick Warren on keyboards and accordion.

Laurie and the rest of the Copper Bottom Band played a wonderful mix of old songs ranging from gospel to blues to jazz. Chestnuts like “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Swanee River” definitely hit the spot, but the most stunning moment of the night was an instrumental duet of Laurie on the piano and Vincent on the tenor sax. It was absolutely jaw-dropping.

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