In typical fashion, Ms Lauryn Hill is running late for her Glastonbury set. As the minutes roll by, her DJ runs through a glut of ’90s hip hop bangers, including Snoop Dogg’s ‘Drop Like It’s Hot’, and ‘Hypnotize’ by the Notorious B.I.G. The Pyramid Stage crowd’s frustration is held for the time being.
Fifteen minutes in, Ms Hill walks out wearing a black top hat, pearl necklace and looking every bit the icon she’s become over the decades. When she finally starts singing, a roar passes through the swelling in the crowd. Except, for the next 45 minutes, they’re treated to a tepid performance.
While her live reputation has been mixed for some time, this doesn’t do a lot to dispel those rumours. One issue is the volume: it’s too quiet. She asks repeatedly for the band’s muffled sound to be adjusted, but no change comes. The familiar rhythms and beats faintly soothe the crowd, but only for so long.
With her vivacious energy, Ms Hill attempts to distract away from technical issues with her rapping prowess and stage presence. Yet, halfway through the set, the disappointment is too much for even the star. She walks off stage to have a word with someone as her band and back-up singers stand around unsure of what to do next.
For the rest of her set, Lauren seems mad. She clearly still possesses the vocal range found on her album of twenty years ago, but these live versions seem to fall flat. Her rendition of ‘Ex-Factor’ is wonky. Though she does her famous cover of ‘Killing Me Softly’ along with leading the crowd on a rendition of ‘Doo Wop’, which gets people going
The only redeeming part of Lauryn Hill’s performance at Glastonbury was the fact that she was playing to an audience raised on her music, awash with memories of ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’, an album that affected an entire generation. Too bad nobody could hear her properly.