Ms. Lauryn Hill’s Sonic Set at ACL Live

Ms. Lauryn Hill and her voice are still beautiful and majestic, just more matured in control and presentation.

Ms. Lauryn Hill returned to Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater on Nov. 28.

Naturally, the highlight of the evening was Ms. Hill’s performance of the song that catapulted her to stardom; the Roberta Flack staple, “Killing Me Softly.” The crowd could not resist joining in. She also  dropped some unexpected jewels with covers of Sade’s silky hits “Your Love Is King” and “Sweetest Taboo.”

Ms. Lauryn Hill’s DJ is top-notch and represents that title in every sense of the word.  He quickly kept the crowd on their toes dabbling in Hip Hop, Reggae, and soul classics, even playing songs that were sampled by Ms Hill and The Fugees.

The backing band was exceptional.  They blessed us with an intro before Ms. Hill’s appearance. No doubt, they could rock an entire show on their own.

Ms. Hill came out swinging with a fast afrobeat-inspired version of “Everything Is Everything.” Ever the consummate performer, L-Boogie directed the impromptu vamps.  

The only downside of the show would be for diehard fans expecting to hear her perform catalog selections in their original forms.  On several songs, the different versions were so much faster that she was unable to deliver her memorable rhymes as well as desired at those speeds.  

On the flip side, when she is able to deliver her lines on pace they are done impressively, with quickness and ferocity. She did, however, perform the Fugees classics “Fugee La” and “Ready or Not” in versions similar to the originals, but faster.

She performed the Fugees classics “Fugee La” and “Ready or Not” in versions similar to the originals, but faster.

These alternate versions and their performances are enjoyable nonetheless. They demonstrated both musicianship and variety.

Minor periodic sound issues plagued the opening acts.  It was hardest for the first band as the lines were checked and equipment plugged-in while the band was performing on stage.

Issues notwithstanding, The Soul Rebels, a brass band hailing from New Orleans definitely brought that familiar Big Easy sound with their own twist.

Oluseun Anikulapo Kuti – a.k.a. Seun Kuti, the son of afrobeat original Fela Kuti – commanded the stage with his own personal glimpses of brilliance and performed songs rooted in and relating to the ever-present struggle.  Kuti commanded the stage, both as a performer and saxophonist.

All in all it was an awesome and energetic show.  Ms. Lauryn Hill and her voice are still beautiful and majestic, just more matured in control and presentation. Absolutely check her out when you get the chance.

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