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LAURYN HILLL: STUBB’S, AUSTIN, TEXAS, MAY 1, 2011
Despite mixed-to-horrible reviews of her 2011 “Moving Target” tour, Lauryn Hill continues to sell out venues wherever she lands. That type of loyalty from her fans carried over into Austin, TX, for a scheduled appearance at Stubb’s. People started lining up as early as 4p.m. for the 8p.m. show. The overall energy of the queuing crowd was a mixture of excitement and anxiousness. Uncertain of what to expect, there was a general hopefulness that Ms. Hill would disprove reviews of her sometimes extreme tardiness and deliver classics as promised from her solo debut, THE MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL, and her days with the Fugees. With no opening act, the crowd was kept warmed up by Ms. Hill’s DJ and its anxiety was put to rest just in time –it was now nearing 9p.m.- when Ms. Hill was seen crossing the side of the stage to prepare to go on.

The first song “Everything Is Everything” was like a long-awaited kiss. Ms. Hill has been so deeply missed and the crowd wanted to see how far they could stretch their arms and voices to show and tell her just how much. Set-wise, she delivered the hits, “Lost Ones,” “Zion” and “Superstar” from MISEDUCATION. She also played “Ready Or Not”, “How Many Mics” and “Fu-Gee-La” from the Fugees’ album, THE SCORE. The only songs missing from the set were “Killing Me Softly” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Most of the songs were given new treatments and arrangements of a Hip Hop-Rock style. Ms. Hill also included some Bob Marley covers, e.g. “Waiting In Vain”. Those who came looking for Lauryn Hill circa 1999 will have to resolve their search to YouTube. Who Ms. Hill has evolved into is more akin to a performance artist than an R&B/Pop singer; however, she is still the ultimate M.C. And that’s where her focus now appears to be.

One challenging and distracting aspect of the show was that Ms. Hill was constantly directing her band and the stage hands to make certain changes they didn’t seem to know how to follow. When she requested more energy from the band, they remained at the same level and when she requested more volume from the stage hands, more feedback was heard. When she sought her background singers’ help for adlibs on “Zion,” they stared back at her sort of clueless until finally she asked the audience, who all filled in happily. This is her touring band so one would assume they’d worked out all the kinks by now. All in all, she had too much backing music and there didn’t seem to be clear communication or a synergy between her and the band, which made Ms. Hill have to work harder. Fortunately, she did the work.

She left the crowd yelling for more and though due to venue restrictions, she wasn’t allowed an encore, Ms. Hill, after continuous chants of “Lauryn! Lauryn!” returned to shake hands, give hugs and take photos with people in the crowd. Despite a show they’ll definitely remember, some audience members called it bittersweet because unfortunately there’s no knowing what’s coming next from Ms. Lauryn Hill. She could very well up and disappear again or release another masterpiece. For some, hope still lies in the latter, while others have completely given up on the possibility of new music from her. What can be said for sure is that as long as she decides to tour and doesn’t add any more fuel to negative rumors (or even if she does), the people will show up, because they love her just that much.



About the Writer
Terrence Lathan is a music enthusiast based in Houston, Texas and the curator of HueSoul.com.
  
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