The unpredictability of Ms Lauryn Hill

Orla Dwyer reviews the Miseducation of Ms. Lauryn Hill

Buying tickets to a Ms Lauryn Hill concert is a risk many fans are clearly willing to take. Hill is renowned for being late to performances and sometimes not turning up at all.

So far on the 20th anniversary tour of her album ‘The Miseducation of Ms. Lauryn Hill’, the singer has issued an apology for her shows in Brussels and Paris after showing up two hours late. In Paris, she only performed for 30 minutes. Luckily for Irish fans in the 3Arena on Friday 30 November, Hill dominated a set lasting 90 minutes and filled the stage with nostalgia and love.

The concert was part of the European section of the 20th anniversary tour for her award-winning solo-album, released in August 1998.

Hill is now 43 and the crowd was roughly in the same range. People in their 30s and 40s who had presumably listened to the album during their formative years. Hill discussed this at the end saying people tell her this album shaped them growing up, which received a huge reaction from the crowd.

The show opened with Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles. Their soul and R&B songs about love and sadness perfectly set the scene for what was to come when Hill took to the stage shortly after. She sounded the same as she did 20 years ago on the record, hitting every note and rapping every beat with soul and meaning.

Hill is not one to shy away from a bit of preaching. She closed the show with a reminder to “spread that vibration with love,” a sentiment echoed various times throughout. “We can resonate the frequency of love,” she said earlier in the performance.

Hill was a member of the Fugees, a hip-hop band from the early 1990s best known for their hit songs Killing Me Softly and Ready or Not, both of which Hill performed to a wild reaction from the crowd.

Her outfit stood out dramatically from that of the simply dressed backup singers and the minimalistic set. Pairing a leopard print coat with a bumblebee striped jumpsuit is a bold choice. Much like her outfit, her work still stands out 20 years after its inception.

The album was partially inspired by her romantic relationship and pregnancy with Jamaican entrepreneur Rohan Marley. It is a blend of soul, hip-hop, R&B and reggae and it broke a record for first-week album sales by a female artist at the time. Hill was nominated for 10 grammy awards and won five including album of the year and best new artist.

Many people would recognise one of the album’s songs “Ex-Factor” from being sampled on “Nice For What” by Drake earlier this year. Hill performed her own version of this near the end of show saying: “My sh*t is classic, here’s an example.”

Hill has been sampled on numerous other songs including “All Falls Down” by Kanye West which featured “Mystery of Iniquity“. The album may be 20 years old, but its songs and message have continued to remain relevant.

A skeptical mindset after hearing horror stories of short sets and late beginnings was difficult to avoid, but Hill blew it out of the water. She performed hit after hit to a crowd hanging on to every note.

For those who grew up with this album, who were formed by its lyrics, Hill’s excellent performance would have satiated their adolescent dreams of hearing such formative music executed beautifully.


Orla Dwyer

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