Former member of The Fugees, Lauryn Hill has announced a handful of club dates, including one in Charlotte on Jan. 8. While the shows are sparking excitement all over the city and Internet, some might be wondering what exactly they should expect. Hill has had a string of late arrivals, cut-short appearances and less-than-stellar performances — yet I'm not sure her fans care.
As soon as word was released that Hill would be performing, there was little concern about high ticket prices — her show at Amos' Southend are $55 in advance and $60 on the day of the show. Tickets for performances in New York City last week were going for $68. But after years spent off the stage, people are just excited that she'll be performing again, regardless of the price.
On her opening date of the tour in Boston, Hill took the stage roughly two hours late. She ran through a number of hits and left around 90 minutes later, and the crowd wondered what they had just witnessed. James Reed with the Boston Globe wrote that Hill was backed by a massive band consisting of three keyboardists, three guitarists, three back-up singers, a bassist and a drummer and while fans were seeking the Unplugged Hill full of emotion, they were instead given a sonic wave that drowned out the singers' sometimes hoarse vocals.
She was four hours late for her Dec. 28 New York concert — which received comments ranging from "I want the old Lauryn Hill back" to "Lauryn Hill killed it tonight!" Some Twitter posts complained about the loud volume of the band, but most seem happy with what they witnessed, despite the wait.
If you're familiar with Hill's past, the rocky reviews shouldn't really come as a surprise. Hill, 35, released her debut solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, in 1998 to stellar reviews and earned her five Grammy awards. Her followup, MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, came four years later. And then it got quiet ...
Rumors of Fugees reunions sparked interest (a handful of shows were all that came to be) as much as rumors of a sophomore studio effort. Neither really came to fruition. Hill, who has five children with Bob Marley's son Rohan Marley, disappeared from the spotlight.
Former bandmates Wyclef Jean and Pras both hinted that Hill had some mental issues she had to deal with in separate interviews. Pras said you'd sooner see Osama Bin-Laden hanging out with George W. Bush than see him with Hill again. Jean said bluntly, "Lauryn Hill is the problem," when asked what is holding up a Fugees reunion in an interview with Scratch magazine.
In 2004, she started selling autographed posters and Polaroids on her website for as much as $500. She offered a pay-per-view video that could only be watched three times and her label, Columbia Records, sank $2.5 million so she could build a home studio to work on the album.
An album called, Ms. Hill, was released in 2008 as a collection of unreleased songs, remixes and, basically, greatest hits.
In 2009, Hill embarked on a European tour, only to have it canceled two shows in. She passed out at the beginning of the second show and refused to give refunds. The rest of the tour was then canceled. In 2010, Hill was a part of the Rock the Bells tour to mixed reviews.
If you're going to the show at Amos', don't expect an on-time start. Hill has quickly gained a reputation for starting shows two hours after the opening act has left the stage. It sounds like she's been hanging out with Erykah Badu — who is known for the same behavior.
So, what's next? One can only assume as the ever-reclusive Hill rarely offers interviews. You could guess that her brief club tour will either be followed by more tour dates, a new album finally — or perhaps a few more years out of the spotlight.
It's difficult to understand why an artist whose star shone so brightly would disappear from the limelight without reason, only to return in fits and starts and leave her fans in the lurch waiting and wondering what would be next.