Lauryn Hill, London Coliseum

July 15th, 2005

12th July 2005

To many of the audience’s dismay, Lauryn Hill was said to be in ‘heavy traffic’ an hour and a half after the support act for the night left the stage at London’s Coliseum. The packed opera house boo’d and stomped, some leaving their seats and not returning when the artist eventually arrived. Once on stage, Hill and her band of more than fifteen, launched into loud and impressive tracks, sounding remarkably rehearsed and very powerful. Whilst sitting through the silence of her changing guitars, some of the crowd started shouting, one demanding an explanation for her late arrival. ‘Do you want the lie or the truth?’ Hill asked, to which everyone shouted for the later. ‘The lie is that we sound checked late. The truth is I was procrastinating. I couldn’t decide what to wear’. A source at the box office has confimed she was at the venue until 6.30pm soundchecking. Then left.

The set list for the night was fair. Around five tracks from the widely known and loved ‘Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill’ album were performed, including ‘Everything Is Everything’, ‘Lost Ones’, ‘Final Hour’, ‘To Zion’ and the title track. Also, around four tracks from her ‘Unplugged’ album underwent a live band treatment, alongside a medley of Fugee’s hits and some new acoustic material. Her voice was impressive, rarely failing to hit the higher notes, although she seemed to have issues with breath control throughout her rapping. The DJ, three guitar players, three backing singles, drummer and four extra percussionists worked outstandingly together.

In the second half of the event, Hill took to the microphone stand to read from a weighty bundle of paper of several long and complicated poems. The material would have knocked poetry audiences to their feet, although a lot in attendance here, were expecting Hill to be the same crowd pleasing young lady they remembered from five years prior, when she last toured Europe. The intended messages of the poems fell on ears that spent the evening shouting well known track titles from Hill’s earlier career. One yobbish fool decided to spend the night that he had paid up to forty-five pounds to attend, calling her ‘bitch’ when it was quiet enough for everyone to hear. Lauryn Hill ignored the idiot and worked her way through the set.

Five songs in from the end of the nights performance, a venue representative was signalling to the band that they could perform one last song. Lauryn Hill was enthusiastic to continue, managing to squeeze in three or four numbers before the lights of the venue were turned on and the microphone taken from her hand. Besides from the late arrival, Hill couldn’t be faulted. She danced, remained energetic throughout and made a genuine effort to please the fans. The downer on the night was the venue, which however grand, isn’t suited to a show of this sorts, where it’s strictly against the rules to stand from your seat, which for quite a lot of the show, was what everyone wanted to do.