Hugh Laurie & The Copper Bottom Band: New York, NY, September 10, 2012
The band then started to jam on the extended intro to what, to untrained ears, could have been "We Will Rock You." Laurie put all fears aside when he exclaimed that, "If you think we're going to do a Queen song now, you've taken a very wrong turn." The jam, at this point, evolved into the very funky "Will It Go Round In Circles."
Sister Jean McClain then took over on lead vocals and sang Bessie Smith's "Send Me to the Electric Chair." The song ended with the stage lights flickering and audience cheering deliriously. Laurie then rolled his eyes and interjected, "Good luck to anyone who has to sing after that."
It was at this point that Laurie introduced Professor Longhair's "Tipitina" as a song that "has influenced many New Orleans piano players. I don't know what it's about or what it means and frankly I don't care. I just love it." The ensuing version with its emotional vocals and rolling piano was electrifying and joyous.
When introducing "Green, Green Rocky Road" Laurie cheerfully announced that "dancing is not only allowed; it's required." The band then kicked it hard with a rendition that leaned heavily on a funky Memphis Soul beat. When the song came to an end, Laurie again stood at center stage and gave the audience a heartfelt thank you for coming while joking that the band didn't know any more songs and were the show to continue "we would have to start over from the beginning."
Laurie and the band then left the stage only to return a very short time later. Laurie again, thanked the audience for their indulgence and kindness. He then sang the plaintive yet bouncy "Changes" with its lyrics:
"Love must always turn to sorrow
'Cause its here today and gone tomorrow
Still the world goes on the same."
The show closed with a rousing version of "Tanqueray," on which Laurie morphed his already deep voice into a very southern growl that demanded the attention of the already enraptured audience. The effect and the performance were stunning.
The lights came up, and Laurie and the musicians took their bows to thunderous applause. The actor/musician strode to the front of the stage, raised his arm and with a flourish presented The Copper Bottom Band in its entirety, took another bow and simply said, "Good evening, New York!"
[Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon].