Lauryn Hill slays the room with force of nature vocals at 3Arena

Lauryn Hill, 3Arena, Dublin

It was proving to be a challenging evening for concert-goers in the capital.

Christine and the Queens at the RDS had cancelled two and a half hours before stage time (owing to illness).

And now, on the latest leg of Lauryn Hill’s already notorious tour marking the 20th anniversary of her R'n'B masterpiece The Miseducation Of, the clock had struck 9.30pm and of the singer, there was not a trace.

Fans in the three-quarters full arena did not seem surprised.

Hill has been consistently tardy on her trot around Europe, arriving two hours late in Paris and Brussels and then, according to eye-witnesses, performing for 30 minutes or so.

Her eccentric time-keeping, the artist (43) had subsequently explained on Twitter, was born out of a need to “align her energy”.

I don’t have an on/off switch. I am at my best when I am open, rested, sensitive and liberated to express myself as truthfully as possible.

Clearly she was busy “aligning” off stage, as the support act came and went and a tour DJ shuffled on to spin old-school hip-hop.

It was, it felt, going to be a long night. And then a miracle. At around 9.50 pm, with Hill’s band already in place for several minutes, the lights dimmed and here she was – focused, passionate and slaying the room with her force of nature vocals on the Lost Ones and Everything Is Everything.

Having recently departed the Fugees, the expectation in 1998 was that Hill would take a while to find her footing as a solo artist.

The opposite proved to be the case. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released in August of that year and immediately hailed a classic.

An unexpurgated emotional downloading, the record channelled Hill’s experience of the music industry, the unhappy end of Fugees, her pregnancy and desire to fuse the contrasting, sometimes contradictory energies of reggae, hip-hop and R'n'B.

Two decades and 18 million record sales later, the power of what Hill accomplished on the record is undiminished.

Overcoming sound issues, and the distracting choice of what looked like a leopard-print dressing gown paired with a Seventies football supporter hat, she blazed through When It Hurts So Bad and Final Hour.

Images of Nina Simone were projected on the video screen – a hat-tipping Hill more than lived up to as she uncorked her sensitive sandblaster voice.

As 11.30pm loomed and she reached Doo Wop (That Thing), a cover of Lori Lieberman’s Killing Me Softly With His Song (a hit for Fugees) and the Fugees smash Ready Or Not the room had been reduced to one huge, swooning mass.

A little more punctuality and it would have been the crowning moment in a gold-plated, five-star performance.

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