As couples swagger into Heinz Hall in furs, thigh-highs, cufflinks and alligator kicks, DJ Motormane spins neo-soul. The playlist transitions from '97 Erykah Badu and New Edition to ’90s hip-hop remixes.
This is how the night started for Ms. Lauryn Hill’s “MLH Caravan: A Diaspora Calling!” at Heinz Hall on Jan. 31. The tour has a strong Fela Kuti/Afrobeat vibe, featuring all new arrangements of classics like “Lost Ones” and “Ex Factor,” with a much faster delivery and Caribbean drums.
Now of course I can’t do this review without mentioning her delayed arrival — she was three hours late. I’m young and a HUGE fan, and even I was annoyed at how long we had to wait. Musically, it was phenomenal, but she spent a lot of time trying to communicate with the lighting guy, and he was on stage about three times. For a delay that long, you’d think they would’ve had time to get the lights straightened out before the show.
First the band came out, followed by her background singers and then, finally, Ms. Hill graced us with her presence at 11:17 p.m. — more than three hours after the show was scheduled to begin. By that time, all of the —well, let’s just say more "mature" folks — had left the building.
Navy-blue lights shone over the audience, as light shapes danced all over the theater. She serenaded us with a melodic rendition of “Pittsburgh” (as in, just singing the word "Pittsburgh" in between songs). Her guitarist seemed to play a central role in the new arrangements, contributing a blues solo to nearly every song.
Ms. Hill's voice sounded as strong and clear as ever, as she danced around in all black, platform heels covered by the length of her skirt, topped off with a studded black beanie. She is truly alluring. After her covers of Sade’s “Your Love Is King” and “Sweetest Taboo,” the three-hour delay had completely slipped my mind.