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"
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