Show Recap and Gallery: Ms. Lauryn Hill
April 13, 2011
An energetic Lauryn Hill thrilled fans as she performed in concert that at times seemed more like a sing-along than solo performance. Ms. Hill brought her Moving Target: Intimate Playdate Series tour to a sold-out Warfield Theater in Downtown San Francisco, where she was greeted by eager and enthusiastic fans, and returned the energy in a two hour set that saw Ms. Hill become more and more animated.
With a live band that had two guitars, two keyboards, a drummer, base, and DJ, Lauryn Hill reinterpreted many of her past songs, most of them at least 10 years old, with a rock aesthetic that seemed to punctuate the songs with musical stabs. Even her most tender songs, like “X Factor,” for instance, had a grandness that would fill a venue much larger than the Warfield. Hill kept a tight reign over the proceedings, constantly moving her hands and signing to the band behind her without interrupting the beat. So conscious of her performance, she would often wipe her face or motion to the back and then snap herself back to the mic, keeping the beat with the urgency it deserves.
Ms. Hill also manages a neat trick, starting off the show as a singer with a mic on the stand, then ramping up her enthusiasm until she effortlessly transforms into a mic-in-hand emcee toward the end, moving around the stage like an eighteen-year-old rapper she once was. Emotional and animated throughout the set, she may seem rather particular about the performance, but it’s also apparent the performance is where she finds joy. “San Francisco, shall we do this again sometime?” she asks, before the crowd responds with screams of affirmation.
Opening for Lauryn Hill were the Hot Eight Brass Band. The eight-piece brass band from New Orleans, celebrating their 15th anniversary, also celebrated their traditions with blue collar outfits and impeccable timing as they jammed with a seeming chaos that improbably became harmonious. Sporting weathered faces and for one a wheelchair, they performed their songs as if they were here for a good time, but their mournful brassy wails betray a worn spirit that has suffered through hard times. Yet, their wails also had a perseverance, a product of a strong will that kept the horns full and powerful. On one song, a tribute to their hometown, they sang and rapped their lyrics with rather conventional stuff about crawfish and other clichés, but when it was time to start blowing their horns again, they blasted them with a power and conviction as if New Orleans wasn’t just a city but a cause to fight for.
Ms. Lauryn Hill will continue touring throughout the month and into the next, including appearances at two major music festivals.
Center Stage Theatre
Coachella Music and Arts Festival
Los Angeles, CA
El Rey Theatre
House of Blues
San Antonio, TX
House of Blues
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
San Diego, CA