A while ago I wrote a post about Het Concertgebouw, the concern hall in Amsterdam, and mentioned that we had tickets to see Hugh Laurie in June. As you may have noticed, we’re currently in the month of June, and last Monday was the concert.Although very excited, I was a little concerned about how good it was going to be. We’ve heard him perform on television and knew that he doesn’t have the best singing voice (as a lot of mainstream, best-selling artists don’t).
Hugh himself addressed the reason for my concern right at the beginning of the show – what is an actor doing singing on stage? What followed was an enthusiastic explanation of his love for blues and jazz, which set the tone for the rest of the performance. We also both felt that his singing was better than anticipated – evidence of practise making perfect?
I think he was also trying to qualify how exactly he has ended up in this position. He must know that many people who buy tickets to these shows do so merely because he is involved and I would imagine this makes him all the more eager to explain his love of music and the talents of the other performers involved because it wasn’t just Hugh on his lonesome.
He recorded the album of the tour and performs with a band, The Copper Bottom Band, and two fantastic singers – Sister Jean McClain and Gabby Moreno. His appreciation of their musical talents was also evident throughout the night – always ready to applause their performances and repeat their names to encourage further applause. Not that he needed to – it was evident to everyone there that they were a talented lot.
As they made their way through the last few songs of the set, Hugh encourage the audience to get on their feet and most people leapt (not literally) at the opportunity. There was an awkward period when a cluster of people gathered near the edge of the stage by Hugh and his piano and continually took picture of him whilst he was playing. That definitely would’ve put me off, but I expect they weren’t the first to do it, nor will they be the last.
In rather standard fashion (as we’ve come to observe) the Dutchies found Hugh particularly hilarious. Now, I’m not saying he’s unamusing, but there’s something about how English people can manipulate language and timing that foreigners (Europeans in particular) find much funnier than other native speakers. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, in fact these kinds of reactions have led Callum and me to feel we have the comic talents of a successful stand-up, which is definitely not the case. (Only one of us does…)
Throughout the performance the slightly crazed, middle-aged groupies seated in the front row next to Hugh’s piano handed him, and occasionally the singers, flowers and cards. By the end of the night he had quite a haul, but I think his night was made when these were lobbed on stage:
Overall, it was a brilliant show; I downloaded the album from iTunes the next day. There were only 2 negatives – one: that the position of Hugh’s piano made it difficult to see him when sat down – especially for me, as I am a short-arse. Two: we had to wait 20-25 for Hugh and the band to appear, after the warm-up act had been on. That’s just not cool. To make it up to me, Hugh, you can invite me round for tea the next time Stephen Fry is there. Thanks.