Monday, August 06, 2007

Concert Review: Lauryn Hill in Brooklyn, 8/6/07

It was without a doubt one of the most incredible concert-going experiences I have had. Lauryn Hill on a summer night in Brooklyn...

Me and two of my boys from Columbia got to Wingate Field in Flatbush around 3 PM and figured with a 7:30 PM scheduled start time that we would be plenty early. Wrong. There were about 300 people already in line when we arrived and the line was growing quickly. With security provided by the Nation of Islam, we chilled and watched people try to skip line and get plucked out one-by-one. By the time we got into the stadium the buzz about Lauryn was crazy. Random sections of the crowd broke out into renditions of "That Thing (Doo Wop)" or "Killing Me Softly" and people were wondering if she would really show. The sun slowly set as Sean Kingston finally took stage around 8:15 and he definitely had the younger kids in the crowd excited, though I was unimpressed. The 17-year-old Kingston performed three original songs but had his DJ play four songs that weren't even his. Of course "I Get Money" and "Welcome to Jamrock" are going to get the crowd hype, but that has nothing to do with you! Finally the overweight kid got off stage and the real talk of Lauryn started.

The president of Brooklyn got on stage and initially said Lauryn was still on her way (which made a few people leave) but it wasn't too long before he came on and announced "Ms. Hill is in the building". Lauryn's band came on around 9:15 and did a long, amazing peice before she actually came out. When she finally did show the crowd was LOUD! Lauryn's first three songs were very disappointing. “Lost Ones” was fused with Bob Marley’s “Natty Dread” and then “Final Hour” melded with Peter Tosh’s “Downpressor Man,” and “To Zion” blended with Marley’s “Iron, Lion, Zion.” All three songs were played at a quick ska-like pace and though it was hot, it wasn't what people were expecting. From there she did a few of her father-in-law, Bob Marley's tracks including “Zimbabwe” and “Hammer,” which were loved by the many Caribbean people in the crowd.

Finally, Lauryn hit with "Ex Factor" (my video below).
She blew us away. I had chills as she hit her notes and the crowd could have sung every line for her. She then slowed it down and did a cover of Roberta Flack's “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” introducing it by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, my voice is strained, but I’m gonna slow it down and try to sing you this love song.” Her voice was there, sounding nothing like the raspy vocals we were left with on her Unplugged 2.0 album. It's deep richness reverberating off of the surrounding buildings and making my hair stand on end.

The tempo picked back up and Lauryn went into a set of classics from The Fugees 1996 album, The Score including “How Many Mics,” “Fu-Gee-La” and “Zealots.” She rapped both Wycelf and Pras' verses and the tempo on the songs weren't that of the originals but it was still good to hear the verses coming from her. Lauryn then dropped the mic and the band left the stage still burning and the crowd yearning for more.

With the crowd chanting her name she finally came back and went through songs like "Killing Me Softly" and "Everything Is Everything". She got crazy creative with the latter, mixing in Timbaland's "Give It To Me" while spitting her second verse. Following this she performed her latest single "Lose Myself" which sounded GREAT compared to the recorded single version. The production was just soft enough and her voice sounded amazing. Finally, she switched it up and did a cover of The Shirelles "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" setting the stage for "That Thing (Doo Wop)": a performance, which literally was almost supernatural. Everyone's hands raised, jumping on chairs, bouncing with Lauryn while she kept the band looping the hook while we all sang along. Even more incredible was how she spit the second verse over the instrumental of Swizz Beatz' "Money In The Bank" to the approval of the those dancing in the aisles. "Good to see you," Lauryn said as she exited the stage with the band still playing the rift from her hit song, "Very good to see you!" There was definitely no doubt about that.

This was a make or break moment for me. If Lauryn came out looking crazy and sounding the same, I was gonna give up hope... but no. Though her performance was different, her energy was incredible. She came and set the place out and for that reason I will continue to think she still has it in her.

Rolling Stone Review: "Two-hour-plus career-spanning concert"
Newsday Review: "One of the year's best live performances"


Blogger DiBiase said...

Liking this concert review thing that we got. Amazing that 300 ppl where there 4 hrs before the show.
9th Wonder is in town tonight and his gonna do a "Inside the Actors studio" type thing but for aspiring producers and djs tonight. Should be good

8:26 AM  
Blogger thehaytidream said...

300 people before a show for a woman who hasn't put out an album in 10 years. If Lil Wayne thinks he's doing something selling out crowds because he hasn't had an album in 2, he needs to look at Lauryn.

12,000 at an outdoor concert in the heat of the summer. Amazing.

1:00 PM  

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