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Hugh Laurie houses sold-out crowd with blues in Columbus concert

DANIEL CHI / Asst. photo editor

Hugh Laurie walked onstage at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion with a shot glass full of whiskey in his hand. He raised it up to the crowd before swallowing it theatrically, drawing a roaring round of applause.

“As a young man growing up in England,” Laurie said to his audience, “I never thought I would say the following four words: ‘Good evening, Columbus, Ohio!'”

Laurie, accompanied by the six-piece The Cooper Bottom Band, played a two-hour show to a sold-out crowd Sunday.

Though Laurie is most well known for his acting on Fox’s “House M.D.,” which aired its series finale in May, he proved that he is also a talented blues musician by playing guitar, piano and singing with a convincing country twang to songs by artists such as Billie Joe Armstrong and Jimmie Rodgers.

Some audience members, such as Ashylnn Rutherford, a fourth-year in criminal justice at Ohio State, said she never knew Laurie was a musician.

“I was a fan of the TV show like everyone else,” Rutherford said. “But I bought his CD when I heard he was going to be in town and I loved it. The show was awesome.”

Laurie interacted enthusiastically with the crowd during the show. He spoke extensively between songs about blues and folk music, proving his knowledge and passion for the artists whom he covers.

Dee Cody, 25 of Columbus, attended the concert and said Laurie’s enthusiasm was contagious.

“He had so much energy and it radiated,” Cody said. “He had everyone’s attention from the moment he got onstage. It was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time.”

Arguably one of the night’s most memorable moments was when a man walked onstage carrying a tray full of shot glasses of whiskey, which Laurie distributed to each member of the band.

“It’s now become our habit to stop halfway through and rehydrate,” Laurie said before toasting to the crowd.

Besides Laurie’s impressive vocals and onstage antics, opener The Cooper Bottom Band shined with its soulful playing of blues instruments such as the harmonica, accordion, trumpet and banjo.

The show’s old-fashioned ambiance was matched perfectly by the stage, which resembled an antique shop. Ornate rope tassels were wrapped around the microphone stands and orange, vintage-looking lamps were placed around the stage. Only a laptop set up next to one of the keyboards looked out of place.

Robin Thornton, a fiscal associate at OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said the concert was very memorable.

“It was one of the best shows I’ve seen in quite a while,” Thornton said. “I loved it.”

The show ended with Laurie taking yet another shot of whiskey before giving a thumbs up to the crowd and dancing off the stage. 

Tickets for the show were priced from $35 to $45.

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