Source: Ruth Zurawka
An amazing night of Blues in Pittsburgh!
Hugh Laurie And The Copper Bottom Band took their places on stage promptly at 7:30 and were welcomed by a steady stream of yells and applause by a full house at the elegant and acoustically pleasing venue. The band opened with The Dixie Cups' "Iko Iko," which many people in the crowd knew and sang along to with the band. For the next song, Laurie took his seat at the piano and asked the audience if he could get some help singing the chorus to "Let The Good Times Roll." After the first take, Laurie acted blown away by the audience's response, impressed that harmonies could be heard and joking that it took a Russian crowd 45 minutes to get to where the crowd was on its first take. After the third song, the toe-tapping "Evenin'" from his second album, Laurie introduced Jean McClain and Gaby Moreno as they took center stage to sing the Ray Charles song "What Kind Of Man Are You?" The two soulful and extremely talented singers would share vocal duties with Laurie throughout the night. Moreno also helped Laurie display another one of his talents - dancing - as the two paired up for a tango at the end of "Junco Partner."
Laurie, being the English gentleman that he is, would bow and thank the audience after each song or ask for their applause if a certain band member had a stand-out solo during a song. It was obvious throughout the night that Laurie is first and foremost an actor, often telling jokes or acting silly onstage for a quick laugh between songs as band members switched or readied their instruments. He also appeared very humble, saying more than once after a song with either Moreno or McClain (or both) as the lead that only an idiot would try to follow that performance. The first time he said this was after McClain's riveting rendition of "Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair." Afterwards, Laurie strapped on his guitar and sang "Mystery Train," made famous most notably by Elvis Presley. More than halfway into the set, the band played the title track off of their second album Didn't It Rain, an appropriate song since it had down poured for nearly half of the day. Laurie had mentioned earlier in the show that he had enjoyed his short time in Pittsburgh partly because of the rain and also because of how "heavy" Pittsburgh was, saying that Los Angeles would weigh as much as just three Pittsburgh blocks. The final song of the setlist, a raucous cover of Dave Van Ronk's "Green Green Rocky Road," brought the audience to their feet, showering the band with applause until they returned for a three song encore.
Although Hugh Laurie is a well-known and brilliant actor, he did not break into the music scene by just using his famous name. Although quite humble about his talent, he is truly a magnificent and gifted musician and is very enjoyable to watch onstage. His piano and guitar playing skills were sometimes worked into an episode of House, but not until you see the man play live can you begin to appreciate what a true star he really is. Laurie mentioned during his band's set at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead that this type of music, made popular primarily by the people of New Orleans, is America's greatest gift to the world and he truly loves and appreciates it. I paid more for my ticket that night than I have ever paid for a concert or one-day festival pass, but I would pay it again if he and the Copper Bottom Band ever find themselves back in Pittsburgh.