After a long wait, Ms. Lauryn Hill captivated fans on May 17 at Club Nokia.
Ms. Lauryn Hill gave a long and thorough performance last night, but not before allowing an eager crowd to endure an hour-and-a-half long wait. The delay, however, built up excitement in the expectation of watching the former Fugees group member and legendary hip-hop icon perform.
It was a night of anticipation at Club Nokia at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. The crowd danced to the tunes being spun by a DJ who repeatedly asked if we were ready for Ms. Lauryn. Of course, fans responded with roars. Music played and played, but the audience grew restless, even after a few West Coast classics kept them moving. After an hour, you could sense the crowd getting even more tired of waiting. But the DJ carried on with his tracks, and the people waited patiently. Some even decided to take on seat on the floor – after standing for a solid three hours (including the opening act’s set), it was the best they could do in order to conserve their energy for what was ahead.
Finally, Hill’s live band took to the stage. The restless crowd erupted, and Hill began singing as if she had no idea that everyone had been waiting for so long. The crowd quickly forgot about their long wait and focused in on the show. The band was loud and would influence the performance throughout the night. Hill flowed into a unique version of the Fugees classic, “Killing Me Softly.” This rendition was much more lively than the eerie hip-hop classic that everyone in the building knew by heart. The live instrumentation made this song feel happier but not more effective. The feeling of the original will always evoke the memories of the glory days of 1990s hip hop. Reinventing something that doesn’t need it is admirable, and Hill is never one to settle, so you couldn’t be surprised that she would attempt to change the perception of this song at her new shows. The crowd was not too impressed, having waited so long in order to endure Hill’s self indulgence, yet fans still swayed and bobbed their heads in acceptance of the artist’s experiment.
Throughout her illustrious career, Hill penned many great songs and melodies that have shaken the foundations of hip hop to the core. Her shows are always guaranteed to be full of classics following one after another. This is a great thing for fans, but as time wears on, some artists tend to get bored. Those that have pushed the limits of their genre continue in that tradition. You wouldn’t expect anything less from the Fugees’ member.
Following “Killing Me Softly,” Hill performed a much different version of her hip-hop anthem “Everything is Everything.” This rendition was more accessible to the audience, as they seemed to be loosening up to the live band. Still, it seemed that some just wanted a great hip-hop show where the beats were provided by a DJ.
The set continued with “Final Hour,” “To Zion,” “Lost Ones” and “Ex-Factor” all getting similar treatment as the first two classics. These versions lasted well beyond their original track time, as grandiose notes and thumping crescendos filled the venue.
After “Ex-Factor,” there was an intermission, and when Hill returned to the stage with an acoustic guitar in hand, it signaled that it was time for an unplugged performance. This was the most hypnotizing moment of the show. Even though it was getting late, the fans remained enchanted by the sweet sounds of strumming coming from Hill’s guitar. “Oh Jerusalem” received a great response, with the entire crowd singing along. Hill sang with soul, as her voice perfectly married the acoustic sounds.
After the enjoyable set, Hill stepped off the stage for one more intermission. This shorter wait ended when Hill returned, reintroducing her DJ then acknowledging that she was going to finish off the show with what the people wanted to hear. She ran off “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “Zealots” and several others.
True to her word, Hill revisited a song she had performed just two hours prior, “Killing Me Softly” – this time in its original version. The crowd responded to the song like it was 1996. Hill had the crowd in a trance with everyone singing along to the lyrics of the undeniable hip-hop anthem. Following that up, she covered Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain” and “Could You Be Loved,” giving Club Nokia a very relaxed and enjoyable vibe as the night neared its end. Hill finished the show with “Doo Wop (That Thing),” the hit from her classic 1998 album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
The crowd was more than pleased with how she displayed her versatility throughout the show’s three unique sets. Hill showcased her abilities as the artist everyone knows and loves, but also showed that she has nothing left to prove. By reinventing some of her classic songs, Hill demonstrated that she is still trying to evolve as an artist, while staying true to her sound. It was a great show, finishing close to 2 a.m.
Ms. Lauryn Hill performed classic after classic the way she does best – as a hip-hop revolutionary. Artists need reinvention, but some of us are only about the original songs that got them there.