The doctor was in the house last night at Schermerhorn Symphony Center as Hugh Laurie, aka Dr. Gregory House (hit TV series, House) performed with the quirky, 1920s styled “Copper Bottom Band” for an evening of American Jazz and Blues, filled with silly goof-ups, droll humor and some pretty awesome entertainment.
The night began with a buzzy, chattering crowd waiting excitedly for the show to get under way, a crowd that finally began to settle down as the Copper Bottom Band members filed onto the stage to take their places amidst the kitschy set where the show starring America’s (possibly the world’s, according to Guinness World Book of Records) most watched, beloved and best paid TV actor would soon begin.
Just when the audience had begun to settle down for the show, the madly popular actor-turned-musician Hugh Laurie walked out onto the stage and a deafening roar exploded throughout the concert hall. “HOUSE!”, screamed one audience member – to which Laurie good-naturedly bantered back that House was a fictional character and he was … an ‘acTOR (insert British accent), you know.’
It was a little surreal though, seeing the bitter, never smiling, usually hateful and always sarcastic “Dr. House” take the stage with a goofy little dance and a big cheesy grin on his face as now singer-musician Hugh Laurie – and it was even more surreal when our very own, very American Dr. House opened his mouth and spoke with that thick British accent – but, alas, Dr. House was gone and in his place was a witty, openly silly and very talkative musician – with just enough of the House sarcasm to keep things feeling just right. And the night began.
It’s actually a pretty cool show, the stage set up with vintage style furniture, rugs and throw pillows, fringed and beaded lamps and even a populated hat stand that sets the stage in a 1920s parlor. The musicians are all dressed in varying 20s styles, including men in retro suits, with hats and even sunglasses (think Blues Brothers), and the girls in flapper styled dresses with big flowers abounding. Even Laurie dressed the part, in a red and black checkered jacket – though he looked much more like the man we are used to seeing once he disrobed himself of the jacket, leaving just a white dress shirt and black trousers (however, unlike the character he embodied for eight years of wildly successful TV, his shirt was most definitely ironed … but enough with the Dr. House references.)
Laurie was most definitely the star act and started the show singing and playing the piano, as he is most known to do, but he generously shared the spotlight with the two female backup singers, ‘Sista’ Jean McClain and Gaby Moreno, who were, in my humble opinion, the serious talent of the lot (yea, Laurie isn’t the best singer in the world.. or even the band, by a long shot.) The younger of the two backup singers is Moreno, an unbelievably pure-voiced blues singer, who sings and dances a hilariously overstated tango with the irrepressible Laurie.
And though there are some great musicians and a couple of fantastic singers in the bunch, it’s not the talent that makes the show such a success – but the other way around, the show is what makes the talent stand out because with an overstated, dorky humor, Laurie brings the show to life, giving it a personality, a character of its own, if you will, that makes it so much fun to be a part of. You might buy his album after the show, but I think mainly for the memories it brings and not the sounds it gives. It’s definitely worth catching next time it comes, for an experience you’ve never had, a night of fun and laughter, lighthearted and easy – with a bit of music on the side.
Next up at Schermerhorn Symphony Center, you could probably get away with wearing your bikini, as The Beach Boys take the symphony stage for a night of “Fun, Fun, Fun” for the first time ever.
After more than a half-century of making hits, this iconic group sounds every bit as fresh as they did in 1961, when they launched their massive career with "Surfin'." Led by Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, they'll play all your favorites, from "Help Me, Rhonda" to "Good Vibrations"! Check out nashvillesymphony.org for more information.
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