STORY WRITTEN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER/For 21st Century Media
It is not easy being a fan of Lauryn Hill. There are not many who would disagree with that statement being a fact. She’s going to appear tomorrow night at the Electric Factory, and chances are, if you go, you will leave with some level of frustration. Here are three reasons why:
It’s gotten to be a neck and neck battle between Lauryn Hill and Guns ‘N Roses frontman Axl Rose as to who can be latest for a gig. Both are notorious for making audiences around the globe wait – sometimes hours and hours at a time – for them to do whatever the heck it is they need to do before taking the stage. But earlier this month at the annual Voodoo Experience music festival in New Orleans, Hill upped the ante significantly by being late twice in one night.
Slotted in the middle of the bill and scheduled to go on at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, the second of the three day event, Hill rolled up 45 minutes late and had her microphone cut off promptly at 7:15 p.m. so Thirty Seconds to Mars could prepare their set. Organizers gave the former Fugee a second chance three hours later finding room on a much smaller stage to continue the performance. Hill unbelievably showed up 45 minutes late to that one as well – 15 minutes before Voodoo was scheduled to close for the night.
There is no denying the brilliance of the multiple Grammy winning debut record The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Front to back it’s one of the 90s highlights. But that’s precisely the issue – it came out 16 years ago. Hill has released exactly zero albums since then, a couple of subpar singles and a disjointed MTV Unplugged recording. While this has left the door open for many interesting covers in concert settings, Hill has often bewildered live crowds with her new arrangements of fan-favorite solo and Fugees’ songs, rendering them at times completely unrecognizable.
Tomorrow night’s show comes to $72.80 when all the surcharges are factored in. If you lived in New Orleans for Voodoo, you could’ve paid the same amount for a single day ticket and had your pick of 27 artists to see – including Hill – among them Arctic Monkeys, City and Colour, Barcelona and Skrillex. No matter what your financial situation, $70 plus is a bit too much on which to roll the dice.
So why bother at all? Because when Hill is on, she is really on. Look no further than her surprise performance with rapper Nas at the Coachella Music Festival in April, or two months prior when she appeared during David Letterman’s tribute to The Beatles week and played the Fab Four’s wrenching “Something.” And while somewhere along the way, in addition to being disrespectful to her audience, and while developing a delusional quality – check the demand to call her “Ms.” Lauryn Hill – she remains an intriguing figure in the history of music.
At the very least, you’ll have something to talk about on Sunday.
IF YOU GO
What: Lauryn Hill in concert. Talib Kweli is the opener.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 15
Where: The Electric Factory, 421 North 7th St., (Located on 7th St. Btwn Callowhill and Spring Garden)
Info: Call 215.627.1332 or visit www.ticketmaster.com
Link to Letterman performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpZWyQnX-NQ