Salt Lake City’s annual Twilight concert series is back. The gang of food trucks rolled in and circled like Hell’s Angels, the adult beverage tents stocked with beer and wine, and the army of port-a-potties stood like soldiers awaiting their duty. The gaggle of Salt Lakers swarmed in through the one main entrance*, a steady stream that didn’t let up until a decent way through Lauryn Hill’s late-starting set.
Wind, rain and smoke from a fire off I-15 that wafted over Pioneer Park didn’t discourage the estimated 15,000 people in attendance.
Bassist Stephen Bruner, “Thundercat,” opened the show with a groovy smoothness wearing a floppy-brimmed felt hat, his trademark Thundercats shirt, a plaid jacket, red gym (short!) shorts and cheetah-patterned sneakers.
He played from Apocalypse, his second solo album (he used to play with Suicidal Tendencies, Flying Lotus and others), which was released a year (and one day) previous to the concert on July 10.
Singer, songwriter, rapper and way-paver for women in hip hop Lauryn Hill took the stage with her backup singers and band.
Other than a five month prison-forced hiatus (tax evasion landed her in the big house for three months), Ms. Lauryn Hill has been touring regularly for the last few years. Other than “Consumerism,” she hasn’t released any new material since MTV Unplugged in 2002 and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1998. Live, Hill toys with each song so the experience is an entirely different one from listening to the albums.
Her recent concerts have followed a pattern and Thursday’s concert was no exception. Her set started late after Thundercat’s ended, with a DJ playing in between to keep the momentum and enthusiasm high. The songs played in the first portion of the set were remixed and lengthened. Hill prompted solos from the band members by pointing at them.
At one point, the band left the stage, leaving Hill and her soulful voice to fill the park. She played “Mr. Intentional,” “Adam Lives in Theory,” and “Oh Jerusalem” stripped down to acoustic intimacy. The band came back out to pay tribute to Bob Marley (grandfather to five of her six children) with covers of “Is it Love” and “Jammin’.”
Once she finished her main set, she didn’t come back – the calls for an encore were rejected. Please excuse the conjecture, but it seems that Hill –not her fans – forcefully dictates Hill’s concerts, from when she graces the stage to the proverbial goodbye kiss.
*The Twilight series organizers have since announced that there will be a second entrance for those who have purchased tickets ahead of time for the remaining concerts to help ease the flow.
Tiffany is the Deputy Managing Editor for Spring 2015. Follow her on twitter @tiffany_mf