Lauryn Hill, IndigO2 | New music reviews, news & interviews
Lauryn Hill, IndigO2
The former Fugee's first UK performance in five years silences the doubters
Lauryn Hill is back, and not just literally. Making her first UK appearance in five years, she silenced the doubters with a fully commanding and controlling show. A spellbound crowd watched as she wiped out the memory of years of disappointing concerts, reinvigorating her unmatchable prowess in a 100-minute set taking in songs from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, a selection of Fugees classics and some stunning Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley covers.
Back in 1998, the mainstream hadn't bargained for the revelation that was Hill’s first (and to date only) solo album; no-one quite anticipated the classic that she produced, full of music that approached being a woman with such passion, at once personal and universal. It sold eight million copies but its creator backed away from fame. Recent appearances have been plagued with negative reviews about a disinterested artist going through the motions.
As a singer, rapper and conductor of the show, she relished the chance for reinvention
But last night was different, an entirely selfless revelation. We weren't witness to recreations of the studio incarnations of her music, but the new, abstract arrangements showcased her control, drive and focus: minimal between-song chat and a ferocious stage presence made Hill’s intentions clear.
As a singer, rapper and conductor of the show, she clearly relished the chance for reinvention. An eight-piece band framed her as she rode new rhythms, each choice pushing towards new limits. While her voice now has more rasp than previously, she knows exactly how to use it. Songs were twisted into new shapes, reimagined freely, although the rousing, chesty bridge of “Killing Me Softly” and opening chimes of “Doo Wop (That Thing)” remained untampered with.
The breathtaking force of Hill’s rapping on “Lost Ones” left the audience hypnotised as it led into that huge, triumphant chorus. “Ready or Not"'s statement of intent could have been written yesterday, while “Everything Is Everything” settled its groove into a new, wiser place. Her poetry on the joys and pains of love and life are of a certain time, but their lifeblood is Lauryn Hill rather than the moments themselves. No other artist puts their heart on the line in the same way.
The success of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is indisputable, but not even the audience’s greatest optimists could have banked for the blinding performance we witnessed in such intimate surroundings. While everyone present may have had an opinion on what they wanted from this show, there was only one artist in control.
Watch Lauryn Hill singing "Doo Wop"
Share this article
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
Doherty and Co return to the fray with more tales of London’s seedy underbelly
The punk and post-punk icon lets rip
Texan rockers show that, vocally, bigger can indeed be better
Stylish Bach-inspired solo album from one half of French band AIR
Avant-garde art-pop from erstwhile BAFTA nominee
The American soul great’s late-Sixties to mid-Eighties captured on a hefty, in-depth snapshot
PiL builds up a head of steam with its second comeback record
An exercise in musical archaeology unearths a modern classic
Anglo-Kenyan collaboration proves captivating
A wild time was had by all until rain stopped play…
Psychedelic Swedes lay down some mind-blowing pagan ritual music
Exquisite enervation on Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s fifth album