LIVE: Hugh Laurie – Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Date: 18th June
Venue: Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Support: Bruno Major

Sitting just outside of the Yardbird in Birmingham supping a much needed pint; I could just make out a busker playing something familiar on his Sax; ‘St. James Infirmary’ by Louis Armstrong, covered by Hugh Laurie on his first album – ‘Let Them Talk’. It put a smile of my face and set the scene for what was to come.

Opening with Iko Iko (by The Dixie Cups), Hugh & the Copper Bottoms went from strength to strength, pulling Ray Charles, Elvis & Eric Clapton covers from dusty shelves and blowing a fresh new lease of life into them. Although comprised of covers, mainly from their second album ‘Didn’t It Rain’, the band played with such soul you’d think they were their own songs.

New addition to the Copper Bottom Band, Gaby Moreno, brought an exotic flair performing the ‘Kiss of Fire’ with Hugh. Her vocals (sang In Argentinian) were so powerful and passionate you couldn’t help but fall in love with her, and to hear her sing ‘The Weed Smokers Dream’ was something that could only be rivalled by Sista Jean McClain (who performed ‘Didn’t It Rain’ with Moreno).

But for me it was Vincent Henry’s Harmonica that really made the show. Dabbling with the mouth organ myself in a previous life I love hearing it live and Goosebumps is all I will say to that. Goosebumps everywhere. The man is some sort of musical wizard, pulling all sorts of jazz from his Harmonica, Sax, Clarinet and even throwing some vocals in the mix for good measure.

The main complaint for many was the 35 minute wait between support and main act, however, all four bars of the Symphony Hall had queues a mile long due to the humidity on that night I would imagine. My criticism of the show was that Hugh’s vocals could have been louder. Considering the Symphony Hall is meant to have some of the best acoustics in Europe, I was disappointed, however, the songs, the passion, and the (sometimes hard to hear) humour of Hugh more than made up for any shortcomings.

The support act Bruno Major was introduced by Hugh Laurie and was amazing. He played a handful of songs (“inspired by his Ex”) on his tod in front of a packed Symphony Hall. The guy had some guts, and a pair lungs to match. His voice was powerful, passionate, yet soft and tender.

All in all, the show was a great success; looking forward to the next tour.

If you havn’t already, check out ‘Didn’t It Rain’, the second instalment in Hugh Laurie’s journey of discovery into the roots of American music. If you’re new to Hugh’s music, check out ‘Let Them Talk’ too.