Nas & Lauryn Hill at the Fillmore, 11/16/12

Categories: Last Night

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Britt Chester
Nas last night at the Fillmore Auditorium. Slide show: Nas and Lauryn Hill


NAS & LAURYN HILL @ FILLMORE AUDITORIUM | 11/17/12

Bright white spotlights behind the band are pointed back out at the crowd illuminating a field of hands raised in the air, the video screen is covered with footage of glittering, metallic confetti, and Nas is ripping through a triumphant version of "If I Ruled the World." He's feeling it as much as the crowd, saying, "This shit is crazy. This is beautiful. It's amazing being here." It's startling to realize -- in a sudden rush of reality -- that Lauryn Hill has yet to take the stage. The night was still young.

See also:
- Slide show: Nas and Lauryn Hill
- #ShitRappersSay on stage in Denver
- Ten essential gangsta rap albums

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Britt Chester
DJ Green Lantern last night at the Fillmore Auditorium. Slide show: Nas and Lauryn Hill

For over an hour Nas masterfully mingles new material and classics for a set that climbed to operatic moments of greatness -- epic swells of sound that emphasize the sharpness of his lines. Backed by a five piece band and DJ Green Lantern, there's an arena rock feel -- it's a fine line between head bobbing and head banging -- especially once he starts into material off Illmatic, including "NY State of Mind," "Ain't Hard to Tell," and "The World is Yours." During the latter, he flips the line about "presidents to represent me" to include an Obama reference, which draws a round of cheers.

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Britt Chester
Nas last night at the Fillmore Auditorium. Slide show: Nas and Lauryn Hill

Throughout the set, he peppers in remixes, re-imaginings and quick cuts. From the heady, narrative flow of "Queens Story," the band changes gears to James Brown. Nas asks them to "make it hip hop," and suddenly they've flipped "Funky Good Time" into the beat for "Nastradamus." The veteran MC makes the most of the live band, cutting between songs, coaxing on solos and rearranging tunes. His delivery is on point and only occasionally does he even have assistance (no hype man, just the occasional fill-in for an end line from the DJ or a backup singer). His lack of entourage on stage adds an extra layer of meaning to his performance of "One Mic," which begins minimally, the room dark except Nas in a lone spotlight and the band quiet except the resonating kick drum, and then builds to a massive close.

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Britt Chester
Nas last night at the Fillmore Auditorium. Slide show: Nas and Lauryn Hill

The craziest part is that it's just shy of 10 p.m. when he leaves the stage. Nas and Ms. Hill might be "co-headlining" this tour, but someone still has to go first. It's a huge start to the evening. The bar is raised and anticipation builds. An hour later, following a complete changeover of band equipment, the room is seemingly packed to capacity and after forty minutes of a playlist at low volume, the second DJ is dropping a set of guaranteed party hits -- Sean Paul, DMX, Fatman Scoop, etc.

Keep reading for review and photos of Lauryn Hill's set, plus Critic's Notebook and Setlists


Location Info

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Fillmore Auditorium

1510 Clarkson St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

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