Lauryn Hill marked her return to London after an almost five-year hiatus last night (20th September), dividing the crowd at the first of several sold-out shows around the UK.


Now, first and foremost, this is one of the more ‘interesting’ live reviews we’ve done to-date… why? Well a quick scour on Twitter may give the indication that the whole show was a shambles and Hill was booed off-stage never to return. We’re also quite wary we’re going to get some massive slack and negativity toward this by concert-goers too, but, let’s just put a couple of things to bed from the offset first, shall we?:

1) LAURYN HILL WAS BOOED OFFSTAGE – False; yes there were indeed a few boos coming from the crowd (apparently anyway, we didn’t hear but people close to us did confirm), though booed offstage? People, this is Lauryn Hill, she’ll only leave the stage when she’s ready.
2) LAURYN HILL WAS AN HOUR LATE AND LEFT ONLY A SHORT TIME TO PLAY A FEW SONGS – Kinda true; she did indeed grace the stage an hour after showtime, but she did make up for things, running twenty-minutes over the O2 Academy’s 11pm curfew.

For us, Hill’s return to London was one that was truly memorable, and in the right way too. Supported by an impressive backing band, which splendidly enabled the fusion from rap to a more modern-day jazz approach, the ‘fresh’ renditions of Hill’s output was one that may have raised a few (ok, many) eyebrows, but also one that firmly shouted “I’m back!” to those who may have thought her stint in jail had [potentially] dented her performance qualities.

One of the biggest ‘issues’ concerning the negative social feedback for the show became primarily dictated by her decision to change the direction of some of her most-loved tracks from her acclaimed debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill; sprucing things up with support from the band to make almost indisguisable versions of the originals. Now, understandably, tweaks for live shows are bound to happen, and whilst we may never know the full reason as to why there was such a huge disparity between the album-edits to ‘live in 2014’ renditions, for us, it worked… impeccably well.

In fact, we did question several attendees regarding their views on the new live ‘remixes’, with one interestingly telling us that “sometimes when you see an artist live, you realise their talent when they are ‘studio perfect’. For those who are able to show their talent by doing the opposite of what’s on their studio album, that is talent on a whole different scale.”

Essentially, Lauryn Hill’s reimagination of the likes of Everything Is Everything, Ex-Factor, and even closer Doo Wop (That Thing) may just not have been right for the Brixton crowd, a massive shame in our opinion. Additionally, there does come the time when you sometimes need to let go and realise that live renditions will always differ to studio counterparts…. in fact, different genres granted, we fondly remember the ‘uproar’ that quickly appeared (and then even quicker slipped away), when Ed Sheeran, upon dropping his debut +, was met with a barrage of abuse when the album sounded nothing like his live shows. Artists can’t seem to win nowadays, particularly with instantaneous feedback on the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

Admittedly, things did turn more in Hill’s favour during the last half-hour, belting a surprise Bob Marley tribute (Jamming, Is This Love), whilst it was the resurgence of some of The Fugees’ biggest hits that secured the biggest smiles from the crowd. From How Many Mics to Killing Me Softly (of which the latter replaced “….In his words” to ignite her support for the UK, becoming “Killing me softly, in Brixton” – real nice touch!), it was the Fugees’ set that seemed to spark a ‘second wind’ for the audience. From that point onward, the ticket-holders seemed far more engaged, versus their more inanimate stance earlier in the evening.

Once you factor in Lauryn Hill’s still-powerful ability to throw bars better than some of the best in the industry, tonight’s show was truly a remarkable event. We’re not going to beat around the bush on this one; if you just want to hear The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, then you’re probably best to flog your ticket and stay at home. If, however, you want to hear artistry at some of its absolute finest, then the Ms Lauryn Hill shows are absolutely for you – Hill emits talent beyond-belief, and her appearance tonight truly showed how missed she has been in the rap world over the years. There’s still a huge appetite for new Lauryn Hill music, and if the likes of Consumerism has shown us anything, she’s still strong enough to be classed as at the top of her game.

If you can bypass the late on-stage appearance (we’ll put that down to the fact that ‘she’s Lauryn Hill and she can do what the fuck she wants’), and the occasional ‘dodgy’ output from the speakers (which was a venue issue, not down to Hill), then you’ll be in for a treat come show-time. If not, perhaps you may need some Re-education of Lauryn Hill.

Lauryn Hill’s groundbreaking debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is out now – hit the iTunes link to download:


  1. the brixton website says she was due on stage at 830pm, that may well have changed after i looked at it, but 950pm starte time is not fair for people who have to get public transport home further afield than London, its just a bit unfair.

    as for the reworking stuff – i think a lot more people would have appreciated it if the sound were better. i never know if this is due to the sound engineers at the venue or the artists sound engineer. My advice on that issue is to buy ear plugs made for concerts (mine cost about £12). I bought them to protect my hearing as i am often at the front and also shoot from the pit at some concerts – they just cut the damaging decibels – you can still hear the concert and it really helps when some levels are distorted. i can often hear vocals much much clearer with them in. and no ringing afterwards too!

    I think the balance just needed to be better with the reworking malarky – mix it up – get the crowd going with some ‘as is’ so they can still sing along or engage with the emotion of the song they’ve loved since 1998, but also freestyle on the other stuff (im sure it gets boring doing it the same all the time over and over) – i have read on twitter she does not own the rights to her songs any more, but her 2012 show at Indigo2 has some songs performed more like the originals, as well as reworked.

    for me, it was disappointing, i see from twitter than others enjoyed it, so thats good. im pretty open minded and not often disappointed by a show ive chosen to go to, but sadly tonight i was. twitter will obviously make it seem worse, and more people will go to complain than to rave, but i do sincerly hope people go tomorrow (and to the brooklyn bowl gigs) to see for them selves and not skip going because of the people of twitter.

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