Hugh Laurie is under no illusion. Almost every song in this evening of the 15-track set is delivered with a preamble, in which the 51-year old comedian warmly discussed in a jazz version he will follow standard, or who played originally what is with that. He made his debut on the stage in London as musician, and this English pale, lanky in a nicely cut costume is his obsession of life with the music of New Orleans slightly - and slightly dusted of gags.
Tellingly, though, Laurie addresses all his erudition in "the other nerd in room - other than myself, of course." Its tone is apologetic. He is aware that we are not an audience of nuts 'n' Awlins blues, here to enjoy the nuances of "You Don ' T Know My Mind of Leadbelly." We are here to see a very famous man playing a piano.
In the United Kingdom, we are still responsible for Laurie to be confused with the kind nincompoop Bertie Wooster or Georges Blackadder pompadoured; the great twit to the former foil Stephen Fry. But Hugh Laurie is probably more widely known as Dr. Gregory House, a doctor of TV voice Misanthropy casual in a focus American terrific. House worked on the US Fox network for seven years, and he made the best paid actor Laurie - mockery, contributed to the long, born in Oxford, Cambridge educated aspiring bluesman Hugh Laurie - America.
It is a well-known contradiction of Fame that once you're a rich celebrity, people start giving you things - clothes, cars, jewelry - for nothing. And this is how the Executive a Warner assembled an album of Buena Vista Social Club-style under the aegis of this unlikely and yet bankable, fan - boy. The result is to leave their talk, Laurie thoroughly user-friendly covers album, which includes Dr. John and Allen Toussaint arrangements.
Laurie is fully aware of its flagrant jamminess, and that the players are not allowed to become musicians without a serious suspension of disbelief. Indeed, we expect a next hip-hop album by Dominic West with interest. This evening, Laurie describes working with copper bottom band five men (his costume of touring) as similar to a rich uncle go for the weekend and leaving Laurie Ferrari key. Booklet of the album dwell on the paradox of a chap in a position to Laurie, interpret the music of living hard men whose gumbo music had terroir and unimpeachable source. It has been his recent interview with Andrew Marr, himself no stranger to the contradiction.
Laurie may, of course, take some relief that it is in no way the first British pale face emaciated condition to have been electrified by the blues and jazz, after having been preceded by Jagger, Richards, Watts, Clapton, Page, Plant and so on.
And while Laurie is not in their League, this evening, it is, on the contrary, a little too apologetic and impressed with his equipment. Laurie is no inflamed virtuoso, but his hands spiders certainly know their way around a piano. "St James' hospital" is a delight, beginning as a solo theme feeble, and then changes the band weigh. Having evolved out of English folk song, the old leper Hospital of the title is now St. James Palace, room gawped at by several million viewers of royal wedding, Laurie travelled stressed.
Laurie switches between acoustic guitar and piano throughout the evening, playing happily off the coast of his group, whose control of the southern wooze is never less than convincing. Interval drinks announced is replaced by the Group shot down a trayful of shots of whiskey before "The Whale has swallowed Me of JB Lenoir".
But somehow, you would be rather heard this sad music party in a bar after hours of sweat, rather the nearby gentle of a church full of autograph-hunters work. It is all too often, Hugh Laurie actor, drawling in exact restitution of an accent, living in the part. It is only when Laurie forgets himself - on piano occasional race, or the unself-conscious stomp of "Battle of Jericho" - that the love of man for music sings more clearly.