I was hyped. I had tickets to see one of the "once great" artists of my era. I was going to see Lauryn Hill in one of my most favorite venues - the Paramount theater in Oakland.
But I didn't see her. I saw a shell. I saw a sham, and heard an old, drunken/stoned mess. It was bad, so bad that I had to feel shame for her back-up band, the promoters, and even shame that the Paramount had to be host to such a horrible act.
Ms. Thang has gotten too big for her boots.
First of all she had the gaul to get all 'diva' and arrive a full 2 and 1/2 hour late. Let me make this clear... two and one half hours after her scheduled time to perform. I recognize that musicians believe that they have the license to show late for performances, and it is a given that I had expected her to get on stage around 9 pm. Not 10 pm. She didn't set foot on stage till 10 pm.
Not only that - but her opener was incoherent, garbled and much too loud. Never mind that it was the excellent back-up band that was doing the work. Not even 2 minutes into the song she was dabbing her self with a towel - sweating profusely and looking as if she was going through the shakes... It was pitiful. After the much too long song finally ended she was asking the sound engineer for more "voice..." that she couldn't hear herself in the monitors. Or maybe it was wishful thinking that she simply didn't believe that she was just that bad.
I held out hope - I knew in my heart that "this can't be it...I've got to wait and see what happens...this is going to get better..." I made my boyfriend wait out a few more songs in anticipation that she would get better - or play the songs I had waited to hear - and bless him he waited for me.
By the second song - not more than a few moments into it I had begun to loose hope. She countered the now sitting crowd with "lets give them something they recognize."
What? Wait... no it doesn't work that way. You are the PAID performer. I gave you MY hard earned coin, now its your turn. So get up there and dance, monkey! Slap those cymbals, and do as I expect.
I had lost hope at that point. I wanted to believe in her ability to win over the crowd with her lovely voice - but that lovely voice wasn't there. It was a hoarse, broken and not up to the task of holding the appreciation of this crowd. Myself included. She broke into a fatal version of "Final Hour" and for much of the crowd it was their final hour. They had waited too long for this poor showing to stand it any longer. People started to leave.
One more, just one more, please!?!?! I begged my boyfriend to stay. He agreed, and then it happened. in the midst of the song - she fell flat on her back. literaly. She fell on stage. I couldn't stand it anymore. I had to go. This was not the powerful - graceful - soulful woman I remember from 10 years ago. This was just a bad clown show.
In the lobby people were lining up at the box office demanding their money back. I considered waiting with them - then realized the futilty of it. I left. Hurt and saddened.
I will mourn her as if she were dead.
RIP Lauyrn Hill 2007.