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Concert review: Lauryn Hill delivers a stunner at Brooklyn Bowl

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Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna
Jason Harris

Four and a half stars

Lauryn Hill May 14, Brooklyn Bowl

Yes, Lauryn Hill has her eccentricities. She started her set an hour after she was scheduled to. She sang half of her opener, a cover of Bob Marley’s “Soul Rebel,” from backstage. She took longer-than-normal breaks between the main set and the encores. But in the end, none of that mattered, as Wednesday night at Brooklyn Bowl the Miseducated One staged the best concert I’ve seen in Vegas this year and one of the best I’ve ever seen here.

Hill blazed a quicker, reggae take on “Killing Me Softly” the Roberta Flack cut she breathed so much street life into in the ’90s. I could tell you “Everything Is Everything” was the highlight, but Hill was on such fire that she matched her epic, elongated run through that song with others throughout the show. The way she changed pace within each number was masterful, making tunes feel more like living pieces of art than nostalgia trips. Watching her hand signals to her backup band as she changed where songs were headed was riveting. She was fully in the moment.

And then there was the first encore. After asking if there were “any Fugee fans out there,” Hill performed five cuts from The Fugees’ only album, The Score. “Zealots” was a warning shot. “How Many Mics” became an exercise in scatting, featuring constant changes to the vocals, tempo and feel. “Fu-Gee-La” was every bit the blaster from back in the day. “Ready or Not” took the crowd to an entirely new level of ecstasy, as L. Boogie crushed every part—hers, Pras’, Wyclef’s. And then came the “Killing Me Softly” version that made her so famous.

I would love Lauryn Hill to make new music, I’ve been wanting a Fugees reunion since they broke up and I wish she’d tour more. But if this is the party we get from her from now until the day she hangs it up, we should participate, celebrate and live in the moment.

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