Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013

Laurie Live on the Queen Mary

By David Luhrssen
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Hugh Laurie’s career falls into distinct phases. From 1990-1993 he was the foolish yet oddly sympathetic Bertie Wooster, the pop-eyed upper class twit in a stylish British TV adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse, “Jeeves and Wooster” (a PBS perennial for many years). His star rose higher from 2004-2012 in a considerably different role—the surly suffer-no-fools physician of the Fox hit “House.”

Now, returning to his early love of music, Laurie takes the stage as a piano player, singing and fronting a band on tour and in the recording studio. The Blu-ray Live on the Queen Mary captures a recent concert in a venue with special meaning to Laurie, whose love of New Orleans R&B was sparked by an album Professor Longhair recorded aboard the stately Art Deco ocean liner in the ‘70s. In the Blu-ray’s bonus track interview, Laurie claims he wore down the grooves.

The comedic sensibility already well honed by the time of “Jeeves and Wooster” is evident in his introductions. Laure appears delighted and a bit surprised at successfully navigating a midlife career change from acting to playing music. He turns out to be fully competent on piano, doing decent vocal impressions on “Junco Partner,” “Stagger Lee” and “Tipitina,” backed by a larger, crack band of veterans. Laurie had fun that night on the Queen Mary and the audience did as well.

 

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