The Disorientation of Lauryn Hill

Wherein a volatile r&b superstar wrestles a hostile crowd to the ground

Growler alert! Volatile star versus sweltering, irritated crowd.
photo: Cary Conover
Growler alert! Volatile star versus sweltering, irritated crowd.

Still 90 minutes to go, though, much of it a slog—bits of Nina Simone's "Sinnerman" and Bob Marley's "Hammer" and numerous other shout-outs welded awkwardly to Lauryn's own catalog. Her singing sounds incredibly painful; her rapping just is incredibly painful. She shreds her vocal cords further by goading the band: Pick it up pick it up pick it up. She gnaws off another ballad, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," frail and frayed and unhinged in a way you can't fake. "How Many Mics" as a nearly atonal basher with a metalhead edge. "Killing Me Softly" as wayward, meandering jazz. What's left of the crowd—about 25 percent of what Lauryn had initially greeted—whoops louder as we conclude, after midnight, with "Doo Wop," but not before a brief snippet of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," a joke that's not really funny. Everyone who remains will still love her, but those who've already left—an army of fed-up Growlers—never will again. Nonetheless, Lauryn stands triumphant, content to win some even after losing one after another. I'm glad I never have to see this show again.

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