CONCERT REVIEW: Lauryn Hill
Fremantle Arts Centre
Saturday, May 24
They came wearing raincoats, scarves and beanies but a severe weather warning was no match for devoted fans wanting a glimpse of hip-hop superstar Lauryn Hill.
They rejoiced when the notoriously non-punctual former Fugee eventually arrived on stage - an hour late - and not a drop of rain fell until she stepped off.
After opening with a cover of Bob Marley's Soul Rebel, the energetic Hill went to work on some seriously slick renditions of songs from her 1998 Grammy-winning solo debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Hill reworked many of her much-loved songs, breathing new life into Everything is Everything, which switched gear into an epic reggae jam, while To Zion was given a fast and playful twist.
The band's flawless execution of these complex arrangements honoured a uniquely brilliant album that means so much to so many.
A short acoustic set featured tracks from Hill's only other solo release, MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, showcasing her versatility as not only a lyrically- gifted rapper but a talented singer-songwriter.
"Perth, I'd like to know how many Fugees fans are in the house tonight," she shouted, before letting loose on a series of songs made famous by her former band. How Many Mics, Ready or Not and Killing Me Softly were highlights, with the urge to dance spreading like fever.
The mood was joyous as Perth celebrated a woman whose talent has made her one of hip-hop's most important voices. But, unfortunately, the party came to an abrupt end.
The Fremantle Arts Centre has a strict 10pm curfew which, it seems, was diligently enforced when the band's sound was suddenly cut off - leaving many punters bewildered.
Bizarrely, they played on silently for another two songs before Hill, two days shy of her 39th birthday, was presented with a cake and a garbled rendition of Happy Birthday from a puzzled audience.
The decision to unplug disappointed concertgoers but perhaps if Hill hadn't arrived so late, she might have made it through the set by 10pm.
Either way, it was an unfortunate end to what had been a fitting celebration for an artist whose enormous talent has stood the test of time.