The outline was in place for the piece this week. The plan was to discuss the return, at least to the tristate area, of an enigmatic, genius artist.
In late November, the Apollo Theater celebrated the 35th anniversary of reggae icon Bob Marley’s Apollo debut with two huge concerts. The evening featured some of reggae music’s biggest and best, such as Maxi Priest, Third World, Marley’s son Ky-Mani Marley, and the Wailers, who, together with Bob Marley, sold more than 250 million albums worldwide and are considered one of the most successful bands in reggae music history. The acts performed Marley’s signature numbers in a rousing night of homage.
The level was raised, however, to the delight of the Apollo audience, when a very special surprise guest took the stage. Driving the audience into a frenzy on presence alone, her spin on “Could This Be Love,” “Zimbabwe” and “Is This Love,” as well as one of her own big hits, “Doo Wop,” rendered the dope conclusion of the night in which all of the artists came together at the end of each show to perform Marley’s seminal classic, “One Love,” as a little anticlimactic. Yeah. Lauryn Hill is a star.
Fast-forward to February 2015, and perhaps a continuum of the Bob Marley theme, Hill will hit a few stages in a toned down, less grandiose manner with small, intimate performances. Dubbed “Small Axe: Acoustic Performance Series,” perhaps as a reference to “Small Axe,” the Bob Marley song of the same name, the show is said to feature just Hill and a guitar. The two-week trek will include two nights at Washington, D.C.’s Howard Theatre before heading here for five shows in New York City.
Feb. 13 and 14: Washington, D.C., at Howard Theatre
Feb. 17: Brooklyn, N.Y., at Rough Trade
Feb. 20 and 23: New York, N.Y., at the Highline Ballroom
Feb. 25: New York, N.Y., at the Blue Note (8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.)
Tickets are available at www.lauryn-hill.com as well as respective venues. In addition to regular tickets, fans can also upgrade to a VIP package that includes a meet and greet with Hill—which includes a photo with the singer and an autograph—plus a limited edition poster designed by Hill and a souvenir tour laminate.
But that ain’t it. Knocking that news out the box, but still keeping with the mystic figure theme, the Apollo Theater just announced that D’Angelo and the Vanguard will grace its legendary stage for an epic one-night-only concert Saturday, Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. That surprise announcement was just as unexpected as the December 2014 release of D’Angelo’s first studio album in 14 years, “Black Messiah.” The results were similar to say the least.
As the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts because of the core audience he has kept intact, tickets for the Apollo show sold out in minutes. (I wasn’t one of the lucky ones, so if anyone has a ticket to sell … ) This special evening is the singer’s only U.S. engagement since the album’s release and is scheduled just in advance of his recently announced “Second Coming” European tour.
As a precursor, D’Angelo will make his first television appearance since the release of “Black Messiah” Jan. 31 as the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live.”
Over and out. Holla next week (unless you have a tickets for sale for the Apollo Feb. 7 show). Till then, enjoy the nightlife.