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Review: House of Blues Opening Night, plus an interview with Dan Aykroyd

VIDEO: Dan Aykroyd on the new House of Blues

By the time the Bluesmobile sirened past Game On — where my crew had congregated for the sole purpose of monitoring pandemonium outside the new House of Blues on Lansdowne Street — and I realized that it might be prudent to jump in line, there were already about 1500 people queuing. Some were dressed like Jake and Elwood Blues, others were dipped in full penguin attire, and they were all ahead of me by 7:30 pm.

Although HOB staff had rehearsed with the Gipsy Kings and J. Geils earlier in the week, the official Blues Brothers–headlined grand opening posed significant organizational challenges — particularly since Dan Aykroyd had announced on television that doors were open to the public. But once everyone got credentialed and segregated according to social pecking order, all that mattered was how — at least for two days, until the red Oscar carpet unrolled — Beantown was the center of national attention.

The show opened with Ronnie Earl and Reverend Lee’s gospel group, and later on there was a Carly Simon cameo — but like so many other shameless scenesters, I was there to schmooze and booze (for free) until the Blues Brothers. Even without access to the posh balconies, I tapped the superficial groove by slipping Jim Belushi a bent-elbowed handshake and shoulder grab on his way in that was intimate enough to convince him that we go way back.

The main event was everything a Blues Brothers junkie dreams of, complete with Sam Moore guest vocals, an “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” encore, and the scent of contraband in the air. (Brother Jake would be proud.) The nostalgia was intense; word around the bar was that one gentleman had suffered a heart attack while boogieing up front.

In the end there were few surprises (other than Carly Simon, I suppose); the sound was wondrous, the accommodations were resplendent, and Brothers Zee and Elwood laced a legendary feel-great blues revue. Perhaps the only thing unexpected was the Boston Police Department’s reluctance to arrest Aykroyd and Belushi outside the venue.

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