Ms. Lauryn Hill
A single file sea of people stood outside The Observatory waiting for Lauryn Hill last night. The line that wrapped from the front entrance, through the parking lot and down the side of Harbor Blvd. However, the fans didn't seem impatient as they shuffled toward the venue to see the 8-time Grammy winner, despite the fact some of them had waited hours and Hill wouldn't even take the stage until about 10 p.m.
The night started off with a major boost of island energy courtesy of opener Daniel Bambaata Marley, son of Ziggy Marley and grandson of Bob Marley.Talk about someone who genuinely is passionate about performing. Marley mixed reggae and rock with classical components throughout and his movement amongst the stage had hands swaying with the beat and new and old fans enthralled.
Girls with bottle service licked their joints sealed and a fur rug was laid on the floor for L. Boogie. The audience chanted and screamed for the queen of neo-soul and hip-hop but not just yet, DJ Rampage took the turn tables saying "We started this in San Diego, we're here tonight and let's do this right!" He began to play Ms. Hill's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and fans sang the lyrics capturing videos of the empty stage. Finally, at 10pm Hill walked out in a sequenced embellished bomber jacket and black wide brimmed hat.
She began with a fast paced, reggae rendition of "Killing Me Softly" and "Everything Is Everything." The crowd screamed as three back up vocalist framed their face, crossed their arms across their chest and tapped their thighs. Not only did Ms. Hill have this ability of walking onto the stage significantly late for her show without fans in disarray, but she also commanded her band like a conductor, signaling queues for when she wanted them to speed it up as she flowed or slow it down for a certain note to hit just right.
She sang "Final Hour," "To Zion," and "Lost Ones." Then she asked, "Where are you my ladies? My beautiful ladies. Treat them right!" she said, before launching into the opening lines of "X-Factor." "It can all be so simple/But you'd rather make it hard/Loving you is like a battle/And we both end up with scars." She let out a beautiful smile towards the end of the song. She sang "Mr. International," "Adam Lives In Theory", and "I Get Out" before covering Bob Marley's "Turn Your Lights Down Low." Tracks performed from her '98 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill weren't a regurgitation of the much loved tracks you've played on repeat. Tonight she was interested in giving her fans something they hadn't already heard before. Fast paced, reggae vibed tracks that still showcased her incendiary vocal range.
She asked the audience, "You guys ready for some Fugees? Can we go back there? I'm going to take you back, come on!" A galactic type sound went off and she sang "Zealots" and "How Many Mics" with a legendary flow where she repeated "Many Moni" over and over at a jaw droopingly fast rate. Next up was "FU-GEE-LA", the infamous "Ready Or Not" and "Killing Me Softly", all tracks that made the jazz-rap, mid-'90s group infamous! She returned to her Marley medley with songs like "Jammin," and "Could You Be Loved" before igniting the crowd with the Miseducation mega hit "Doo-Wop" which got the who room singing about "that thing" by the end of the night.
Ms. Hill has an amazing tour with diehard fans ahead of her and as for the 3 months of house arrest she faces, to put her tax evasion scandal behind her, well I think we should cross our fingers and eyes and toes because the woman performing last night in Santa Ana definitely has another album in her. Hopefully we are lucky enough to see that day.