Jan 24, 2011

Lauryn Hill at House of Blues on 1/20/11

I corralled two friends, Leslie and Debbie, to go with me to see Lauryn AKA "L Boogie" in a rare, possibly last chance ever to see her, show. The show was to be on a Thursday at 8pm. Being me, as I am, a planner and researcher to the Nth, I learned shortly after the $80 per ticket purchase, that she has been notoriously arriving to her gigs 3 hours late. This would place some of us, the no longer stay up late into the wee hours partying types, in a position of not getting home until after 2am or worse, 3am. After learning of the likelihood of a late night, Leslie preferred to bail given that she had a presentation to give the next day. Ticketmaster sent an alert a week later officially changing the start of the show to 11pm. After much debate and even an offer from ticket master to buy back tickets, Debbie and I elected to rally and go to the show. After all, we were not getting any younger and had something to prove (we in fact could and would and should stay out into the wee hours to party with Lauryn and her fan base). On a side note, I sold Leslie's ticket on Craig's List with relative ease. Word of caution though: relative ease still involves a flurry of emails, phone tags, texts, and meeting up with people that you do not know. To be safe, I met my buyer at a close by Starbucks. This did involve another flurry of texts to the like of "no NOT ADDISON, ILLINOIS, but ADDISON STREET near WRIGLEY (DO YOU KNOW WHERE WRIGLEY FIELD IS?). This was a student from Columbia (the school not the country). Needless to say, I was a bit concerned that the transaction would be a bust given the geographically challenging nature of such sales hook-ups. Really? Addison, Illinois?

The show started promptly at 11pm with a DJ playing various hip hop tunes. The crowd was pumped and ready for fun. Apparently everyone had the same expectations of a late night and a late Lauryn. No unraveling occurred. It really is all about managing expectations. This really can keep people in check and minimize temper tantrums (which did occur earlier during her current her tour). Although a sold out show, the fans were well mostly well behaved (with the exception of a round stout man we dubbed "Mr. Roley Poley" who kept screaming in a feverish pitch, "YO, YO, YOOOOOOOOO" during the DJ set and relentlessly pestering and antagonizing my friend Debbie. I kept thinking that if he does this while Lauryn is on stage, she will likely get off stage and kick his roley poley ass. As far as the possibility of dancing, if you were so inclined, there was only enough room to wave one arm in the air. Not enough room for even a square foot of side to side movement.

At approximately 11:50pm, Lauryn walked on stage (considered "on time") and began her set with a cover of the Bob Marley song, "Forever Loving Jah":

and later on in the show, "Doo Wop" or AKA "That Thing":

Earlier reviews, found scattered on the internet about her shows in NYC and elsewhere, would be kindly put as "mixed". Again, managing my expectations, made me much more accepting. If I was expecting a "Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" performed as recorded, I would have thought the show was a joke. What I expected was a re-working of her old music with new arrangements. As such, I looked at these changes to be Ms. Hill's master plan to update her prior work from 1998 and bring it to 2011, in a heavier "rapping" style. The disappointment was her choice to completely abandon ALL performance of her songs with a "soul" or rhythm/blues feel.

Throughout the show she was clearly the conductor and leader of her band and back up singers. She directed them constantly. She knew every drum beat and when it was supposed to happen. At times, I was not sure whether she was unhappy with the band and their timing or if her face just has a naturally "disappointed structure". I would have liked the band to have been a lot less LOUD. They really overpowered her (but she seemed to want this). At the same time, when she sang and you could hear her, she sounded great. Her back up chick singers sounded great too and clearly followed her every direction (and there were many). Unfortunately based on where we stood, we could not see the back up singers at all. I am sure they were gorgeous but I do not have a clue. Lauryn sang for more than an hour and a half and had a lot of energy for the Chicago audience. As you can see from the video, she wore a LOT of HOT clothing that was so dense it would have made an Amish woman jealous. She carried a "blankie" or black cloth napkin, throughout the show, to dab at her sweat. A few less layers of lighter clothing would have done the trick (just a suggestion Ms. Hill).

I was surprised to learn that she is only 35 years old. Her outfit choice (a la "BIG LOVE"/Mormon style) made her look a lot older. Loved the bright blue eye shadow though. She is married to Rohan Marley, Bob's son, and has 5 kids (click on the link!). One of my favorite songs, that she did not sing (boo hoo.... YOOOOOOOOOO), is "Zion" written about her son.

The show was worth going to but admittedly I missed her old style and preferred her songs in their original versions. I give the show a 3 out of 5 guitar rating. I thought the DJ was relatively lame, although she was on time, it was a "late" show, and the band, although excellent, was too loud and succeeded in consistently overpowering her vocals. I will continue listening to the Miseducation album but take a pass on her next tour.

For those of you nostalgic about Lauren, I also found this video of her on You Tube singing live at the Apollo at age 13. This proves that performers can come a long way with practice, talent, and perseverance.

and courtesy of NPR:

HUB 51 for dinner before he show:

For dinner 2 blocks away, with moderate pricing, and a happening bar scene, I recommend HUB 51. For a look at the dinner menu, click here. Debbie and I shared grilled fish tacos, spicy tuna roll, and ceviche. All were yummy. Our waitress forgot the special HUB 51 dipping sauce (mayo mixed with other secret ingredients) and we ate most of our sushi without it. Make sure to get it though because it was worth the extra calories. Our waitress recommended a lower priced glass of pinot noir but we decided to splurge on the $15 glass. It turned out that the $15 glass was not good at all. The waitress was kind enough to swap it out for us with her original $9 pinot. We had great service, an inexpensive meal (I did also have a $25 off coupon which helped to defray the cost but even so), and in the end, a nice glass of wine.

No comments:

Post a Comment