After the cold wave in the Bay finally subsided Thursday night, Ms. Lauryn Hill brought her Caravan tour to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. With the help of her friends Nas and Vince Staples the Former Fugees songstress truly set the night ablaze.
With a 7p.m. show time and most of the guests of the night probably missed the opener Vince Staples. Filling in for the original opener Khelani who came down with a sudden case of pneumonia, Vince Staples stepped up in a big way.
After a short break allowing more fans to pile into the main hall, it was Nas’ turn. With a quick DJ intro and the live drummer taking his place behind the skins, Nas appeared from the shadows. Rolling right into “Hate Me Now” and “Nas is Like” from his I am release, he stomped around the stage with flame projections going on behind him. Stopping every once and a while to callout his fans in the front row who are showing support by holding up a God’s Son album, Nas proceeded to run through a handful of his classics like “N.Y. State of Mind” and “Life’s a B” from his iconic Illmatic album. Although it seemed like most of the crowd new Nas’ music, their participation in singing his lyrics when he aimed the mic out left him wanting more. In a true “rockstar” move, Nas received his biggest applause of the night when he commented on how he loves the Bay Area and might have to move out here for a while”.
Once Nas finished up with a combination of a Michael Jackson “Human Nature”/”Aint Hard” mash-up and a reappearance of Vince Staples who helped out with “Made You Look” it was clear that crowd wanted a female presence. As the DJ hyped up the crowd and the band took their places on stage it was clear that Ms Lauryn Hill was now in the building. Jumping right into the vocals of “Everything is Everything” while the band played loudly beside her, it was clear that she was having issues with the mic/monitor levels. Keeping her head turned to the side while belting out “When it Hurts so Bad” from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, you could see she was notably upset and gesturing to the crew to turn up her mic. Being the consummate professional she is however, anyone not in the front row had no idea that there was an issue.
After finally getting her levels to a place where she was comfortable, she delighted the crowd with her new version of an old classic “I Find It Hard to Say (rebel)”. A song about a police shooting that was written almost 15 years ago, was even more relevant in the hyper militarized police state that we live in now. Working through a collection of songs from her MTV Unplugged appearance as well as more Misseducation tracks, The former Fugees member brought it back to her roots. Starting off with “How Many Mics”, and cruising through songs like “Ready or Not” and “Killing me Softly”, Ms. Lauryn Hill made sure to touch on all of her fans favorites.
Working as almost 3 different sets, Ms. Lauryn Hill, managed to entertain the crowd with her solo works, tracks from her days with the Fugees, and about a half dozen covers from artists such as Sade, Bob Marley, and Cy Grant. Having nearly been on tour for 3 months, and starting to hit the back half of her Caravan Tour, Hill showed no signs of fatigue or disinterest, and made sure to pack her tour with exactly what today’s young and aging hip-hop or soul fan could ever want.
The MLH Caravan will continue throughout December and Ms. Lauryn Hill will be touring long into the New Year.