Review: Ms. Lauryn Hill at the Pageant in St. Louis, January 16

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Todd Owyoung
Ms. Lauryn Hill's difficult reputation precedes her. She shows up for most shows way past the scheduled start time. (And that's if she shows up at all.) She's been known to berate crowds which heckle her -- and she's radically reinvented many of her best-known songs, so much so that they're almost unrecognizable. (And that's not even counting performances that might charitably be described as "shaky.") In other words, being a Hill fan is often a frustrating proposition.

Anyone expecting a trainwreck last night at the Pageant would come away mighty disappointed, however. Hill's concert was incredible.

View a slideshow of the scene at last night's Ms. Lauryn Hill show at the Pageant

Yes, incredible. First, the build-up to her appearance onstage - which occurred at 11:52 p.m., a little over 50 minutes after the supposed start time - had just the right amount of anticipation. As DJ Rampage merrily spun hits in the background, her band casually sauntered onstage: two guitarists, two keyboardists, two bassists and a drummer. A few minutes later, three female backup singers assembled themselves in a row. And then ten minutes after that, Ms. Lauryn Hill, her hair arranged in a close-cropped, helmet-like afro, emerged from backstage.

The crowd went absolutely berserk at the sight of the 35-year-old, who was sporting a smart cream-colored tailored pantsuit over a dark brown shirt. Notably, Hill also wore a shrug that had a gigantic fur collar; it kept slipping off her shoulders, but she kept it on all night. Immediately, she announced her intentions for the concert: "We're going to do old music in new ways."

And that she did, for the first half of the show. "When It Hurts So Bad" featured prominent watery piano and a tortured, scorching guitar solo in the middle, while the laid-back hip-hop of "Lost Ones" morphed into a hyperactive soul-funk revue. An early highlight, "Final Hour," was even more ferocious; it became an amped-up rap-rock song. Hill spat the lyrics furiously and at dizzying speed. (Eat her dust, Nicki Minaj.)

Location Info

Venue

Map

The Pageant

6161 Delmar Blvd., St Louis, MO

Category: Music

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Everett Brown
Everett Brown

2/04: Montclair, NJ (The Wellmont Theatre)AWFUL - disappointing: I brought 4 tickets @ $65eachThis was the worst concert, I have ever seen! The doors open @ 7pm for 8pm concert - The crappy DJ started at 9pm and ended at 11:15pm WHAT NO OPENING ACT. He was so young that he did not know how to blend music. 11:30 another louder DJ playing rap music with F words every 5 sec, N words every 2 sec - he was loud and show no respect with his foul language to the fans. We waited until 12:30 and saw her jumping around yelling to the the stage hand to tune her mike and adjust the feedback for 2 songs. She and her band needed a sound check. The sound was so VERY LOUD that no one would understand what she was saying. The sound was so HORRENDOUS, extremely loud I was in so much pain - was this a ROCK concert. I was in agony for 3 of other songs. We left before my ears started to bleed. It was so very very bad. We and other walk out on her as we all talk and complained about how upset we were, that she disrespected US. Having wasted our time, aggravated by the loud music and no apologizing for showing up at 12:30pm - with NO OPENING ACT. This is not acceptable!!! and she should not get away with this!. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY OR TIME - I thought this would be better! in her home town, after the many complaints but it was even worst. Lauryn Hill is unappreciative of her fans.

JoyGrenade
JoyGrenade

My only critique would be that show was too loud. Apart from that, the radical reinvention of her biggest hits was an impressive change of pace, and the fast tempo of some of the songs provided an excellent showcase for her peerless lyrical flow. I can't imagine the mindset of those who would pay sixty bucks to see Lauryn's first STL appearance in twelve years and then storm out halfway through. She's not a jukebox; she's a brilliant musician who is committed to challenging herself and her audience..If you want to hear The Score or Miseducation the way they sound on record, just listen to the record.

Huh?
Huh?

"I can't imagine the mindset of those who would pay sixty bucks to see Lauryn's first STL appearance in twelve years and then storm out halfway through"

If you went to a restaurant and had to wait 3 hours, would you wait around to be served or leave? Granted, you may not have paid yet even though you were willing to, but still, that would be the same mindset. It's unacceptable. People were expecting to be home and in bed by the time she walked on stage. Also, Lauryn hasn't dropped a studio album or performed in 12 years! So, of course, her fans were expecting to hear the songs they love the way they were originally sung. That was the basis for purchasing the tickets in the first place. And yes, a lot of artists change up songs during their live performances. But not to the point where people are trying to figure out what the heck she is singing!

On da Real
On da Real

eh shuddup you hater you know nuttin about music. you act like you even have a frame a reference to be criticizing this talented woman, you damn Phillistine!! If you couldnt stay up past midnight for one night then you should've taken your old ass home and listen to lady gaga and justin boobers shit

Texaschamp214
Texaschamp214

I heard her show sucked and many people stomped out of the building. They did not like her coming late and changing the songs so much. That they were unrecognizable. Lauryn needs to get it together.

Kirsten_alexis
Kirsten_alexis

Dear Ms. Zaleski: I respectfully and wholeheartedly DISAGREE with almost your entire review.

I hadn't heard or read anything bad about the prior concerts before I wrote this:

OMFG, I wish I had read this article before shelling out $63 bucks each for me & my BFF to go attend the concert. Almost everything happened exactly as in the article, except for the Keyboardist's note to the crowd.

At least the venue pushed the door time back to 9pm, but Lauryn still didn't come out until MIDNIGHT! WTF? Even though the pre-show DJ was rocking oldies but goodies, I sure as hell didn't pay that much money for a club-style DJ party.

But when Lauryn came out, her loyal fans and I greeted her with a 5 minute standing, screaming ovation. You couldn't wipe the smile from my face. I loved the racial diversity present in her huge 11 piece band. Asian guitarists, Black & biracial backup singers wearing funky fresh stilettos, a couple of white guys & a butt-length dreadlocked bassist whose neck just had to be made of rubber. But that smile was soon wiped from my face, much to my slow like honey dismay as they launched into a frenetic, blaring & unfamiliar score.

The night followed just like the featured writer's experience, except Lauren’s shitty rapport with her band was demonstrated by her verbal chastisement of both the keyboardist & the bassist in front of the entire audience. She showed an unyielding control over the musician's performance that I may not have noticed if I wasn't so utterly bored with the unfamiliar music. What I mean is, she was telling each musician (keys, guitar, drums, etc) to play, to stop playing, to play softer, to play louder, blah blah so much so that it was more entertaining to watch them mask their frustration at her church-choir director antics than to listen to the performance. Man. Unfortunate.

The only saving grace of the night was her true-to-the original performances of songs like Ready or Not (thanks to the DJ spinning the record), Killing Me Softly, and Doo Wop Thing. It's just too bad that she didn't put those performances first, because half of the left balcony seated around me had already gone home.

Bottom line is that her tour fell flat. Songs were too loud, sung/rapped too fast, and were too unfamiliar. I actually started playing Brickbreaker on my Blackberry & updating Facebook during the show out of sheer boredom. She butchered my favorites like Ex Factor & Zion unforgivably. Ms. Hill, no disrespect to your musical genius, in your own prophetic words, "You might win some but you just lost one." Well, from the looks of the empty balcony only 40 minutes into your show, you lost a helluva lot more than one.

GadgetGirl

Jhfd
Jhfd

Stupid sheboon..

Tammie
Tammie

LAURYN HILL IN ST. LOUIS: A SLEEPY EYED PLAY-BY-PLAY FROM THE BALCONY READ HERE: http://www.kmjm.com/pages/Tamm...

Annie Zaleski
Annie Zaleski

Ha, I loved this! Great. You left before the best parts, though -- the last 45 minutes or so of the show just killed...

Lennoxsmom
Lennoxsmom

Naw man! I'm a Lauryn F-A-N and I was so disappointed! I could care less about her being late or not apologizing, etc, my disappointment was the way she brought the songs. The only way you could have loved her new spin on things is if you love loud rock music and head banging..which I don't. I'm all for an artist changing things up during a show, but I needed a balance, and didn't get it. The last 3 songs are what I paid to hear and I just wish she would have spread that vibe over the whole show.

RUBTC
RUBTC

I agree Lennoxsmom. I am a Fan as well, and I felt the music was too loud, to the point, I could not enjoy Ms Hill. I just wasnt really feeling the head banging rock vibe. I love the ballads and sultry vibe she usually brings.

Truefan
Truefan

totally disagree with this review. Overall, the show was a 3 out of 10. She was late and offered no apologies...not even a hint of one. the live music was great but too loud because it drowned her out...couldn't even hear her sing for real (the backup singers were louder than she was).

STL Opinion
STL Opinion

Thank youf or posting this and given an HONEST opinion about the concert because people so full of it they only have ears for negativity! This was a great concert with an awesome message behind it! it was so much love and energy in the room the crowd felt it the background singer the whole stage and even lauryn herself felt it! I can only speak for general admission because i feel we had an awesome time from the beginning of the show to the end but a couple glances up top i seen ppl jus sitting there lookin not moving a single bone and thats where i feel all this negative energy comin from because down stairs it was too much energy for anyone to say they didnt have a great concert! She wasnt no 3 or 4 hours late like people say she was 45mins late but people are going to over exaggerate! I felt the concert was well worth my money!

mike
mike

glad she came and conquered! i agree that people should've known what to expect, and the pageant deserves credit for giving a realistic set time. (if i'd shown up at 9 pm and didn't know she'd be on 'til midnight, i'd have been pissed too.)

Stlunatic96606
Stlunatic96606

Immediate concert-goer reviews on social media, negative or positive, are the most accuarate reviews you will read.

I personally never thought I'd see the day when I would have more fun tweeting and reading tweets than I would at a concert (ANYONE'S concert!), but last night I did.

Guest
Guest

I'm not sure people who spend the entire time Tweeting are going to provide a more honest representation of a show than a reviewer who pays attention, takes notes and then takes the time to write an articulate review. Not to say that social media can't provide an accurate picture but I think that people who are way into giving an online play by play are a little more likely to have an agenda and try to sway peoples' opinions (again, whether positive or negative).

It's not like people wake up the next day with a totally different opinion or perception of the show they saw the day before, anyway.

Cherisse
Cherisse

@Nyelle HA! We're on the same board again! lol I see we were both upset with ATL reviews and yes it does seem like ppl just care about the negative!

Cherisse
Cherisse

I'm glad that you all wrote this review because I was at her show in ATL the other night and she did ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL but bloggers seemed to only concentrate on the negative! I'm glad she did good hear too! Her ATL show was so awesome that I'm really thinking about going to see her in Miami (and I live 12 hrs from Miami but she's worth it). If you ever get a chance to see her live GO! She'll rock you breathless!

dawhizz
dawhizz

How long was the concert? I have no doubt that Ms. Hill is still a compelling artist, and there are certainly artists I would pay to see no matter what, but considering tickets were in the $60-70 range (if I remember correctly), I'm wondering if others felt they got their money's worth.

Annie Zaleski
Annie Zaleski

The show was about one hour, 45 minutes. It ended at about 1:40 a.m.

Nylle
Nylle

Great review. Is it just me or does it seem like people are more interested in the negativity that surrounds LH (not saying she isn't the cause of some of it) than anything? After every concert (including ATL in which I attended) all I hear is, "how late was she?" "was it worth the money?" "I'm sorry I wasn't about to pay this that and the other to see her." Understood. But why stay at home just so you can go validate yourself for not going and complainI don't get it.

Annie Zaleski
Annie Zaleski

Yes, it does seem like a lot of people want her to fail...I'm not sure why that is. Do you have any theories? It's kind of befuddling to me.

GilStevieFelaShuggieLaurynEtc
GilStevieFelaShuggieLaurynEtc

Yall are silly, to say the least. No one, especially her biggest fans such as i, wants to see her fail, but they want some CONSISTENCY, especially if they have a tight budget in this economy. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG with asking those questions like you would on anything you pay money for. So i don't get why YOU don't get why someone wouldn't want things validated/substantiated. Who goes thru life not wanting to find the truth of the matter of things??

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