Bucket List Concerts: Lauryn Hill (Live) [Review]
Vancouver, B.C. – Many people have bucket lists of things to do and see before they die. For music lovers, that “see” department often includes a select few musicians and artists who have somehow influenced or shaped who we are today: Lauryn Hill is one of those artists. Her two sold-out shows in Granville’s spacious yet intimate Commodore Ballroom were highly anticipated, as most Vancouverites hadn’t had the opportunity to see her perform live. Adding to that anticipation was the unnerving amount of negative feedback that her tour’s been receiving from the public, but any doubts or concerns that Vancouver fans may have had were put to rest at around 10:30 pm Wednesday night
To start everything off, the Hot 8 Brass Band of New Orleans brought something that was definitely foreign to Vancouver and Canada as a whole. Their music had an excitement, grit and fire to it; composed of a six-piece horn section and two percussionists, these talented musicians had the dance floor packed and the crowd calling back to them without a single still body in sight. There was a refreshing emphasis on the music itself, with extravagant musicality and simple lyrics that the crowd ate up.
After the Brass Band’s satiating set DJ Rampage took over, spinning everything from Snoop Dogg’s “It Aint No Fun” to Big Boi’s “Shutter Bug”. Every track he played was live and definitely created a night-club atmosphere in the room. Meanwhile, Lauryn’s name was being chanted unanimously as it was getting closer to midnight and she had yet to start; many of the critics felt this tardiness was inappropriate and put a damper on the show itself, but when she appeared on stage in her in her vibrantly colored muumuu (an attempt to hide her obvious pregnant belly), the only remaining vibe in the room was excitement.
Just being in her presence was invigorating, let alone experiencing her performing the favourites that so many grew up with: “Lost Ones,” “Sweetest Thing,” “Fugee-La” and “Doo-Wop” just to name a few. These classics were performed quite differently from how they play on the albums: many songs were sped up and rapped in a way that made it difficult to identify which song was actually being performed until the chorus came around. Evidently Lauryn’s rendition of her original music has evolved with her over the years, and she was continuously hand-signalling the band as if to correct them. To onlookers, it may have appeared that her band was doing something wrong, but a quick listen confirmed that they were amazing regardless.
Overall, the whole show was thoroughly entertaining, from pre-show dinner and drinks to the end of the show when the audience, band, & backup singers serenaded Ms. Hill with a birthday song. Personally, I felt privileged to have met the Hot 8 Brass Band, DJ Rampage, and Lauryn’s Hill’s band that night. They are such a talented, kind, and humble group of people – a combination of traits that is rarely encountered. Watching Lauryn do her thing from backstage was verbally indescribable. She is a rare breed, and being at her show was definitely worth the one bill spent and a mere three hours of sleep on a work night.