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LAURYN HILL RE-EMERGES AT NEW YORK’S BOWERY BALLROOM!

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It wasn’t just a club date and the start of a tour; it was also a video shoot. When Lauryn Hill performed at the Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday night, the camera swiveling over the heads of the audience suggested that the show was something more than Ms. Hill’s re-emergence after her recent three-month jail term for failing to file taxes. It was gathering the kind of material performers use to promote new releases — which, in Ms. Hill’s case, would be more than welcome.

She has extraordinary gifts. Though her voice is lower and raspier than it was when she emerged in the 1990s, she is a supercharged soul singer who stokes her songs all the way through, and her rapping is breakneck, articulate and vehement. She’s also an improvisatory, drama-building bandleader. Throughout her two-hour set, her musicians were watching for her signals; to bear down on a vamp or silence it, to unveil pretty, elaborately planned vocal counterpoint from her three backup singers or to whip up a churchy fervor.

There were some moments that seemed like an open rehearsal, but many more that had been well plotted to give old songs new life. “Lost Ones,” from 1998, arrived with two reinvented grooves, switching halfway through: first 1960s soul, then reggae. “I have to make these songs sustainable to perform,” Ms. Hill said. “You wouldn’t want me to just, like a robot, do the same thing every night.”

Yet on a larger scale, Ms. Hill has been in a holding pattern for more than a decade. After she made two albums as a member of the Fugees, she released her only solo studio album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” in 1998; it won five Grammy Awards. It was followed by a skeletal live recording, “MTV Unplugged No. 2.0,” released in 2002, that backed new songs with only an acoustic guitar. Since then, while raising six children, Ms. Hill has toured on and off, released occasional songs online and on film soundtracks, and collaborated with rappers and R&B singers. This year, bracketing her jail term, she has released two new songs: the angry, tongue-twisting, polysyllabic raps “Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)” and “Consumerism,” both taking aim at greed, immorality, abuse, materialism and obliviousness.

At the Bowery, she made “Consumerism” her first encore, riding the shouts and squeals of the crowd as she returned to the stage. After she performed it, she recited some of it far more slowly to let it sink in:

Modernism has created modern prisons

Neo-McCarthyisms, new colonialisms

Pessimism mess they is in

Hoodooism, hypnotism, egoism, realism, humanism, legalism

Mysticism makes decisions from a purer prism.

But that was the only new material, except for a rap that her son Joshua, appearing amid the encores, read from a smartphone. The rest of the songs were familiar: songs from “Miseducation,” Fugees material (in which Ms. Hill rapped verses from the other two Fugees members along with her own), songs from Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley and a full-length version of “I Only Have Eyes for You” leading into the Fugees song that sampled it, “Zealots” (with an unrehearsed guest appearance from the Fugees’ producer and bassist, Jerry Duplessis). Songs that had been hip-hop were recast as reggae, funk and rock; the Fugees’ “How Many Mics” was mashed up with “Can’t Stand Losing You” by the Police. Ms. Hill also sang “Happy Birthday” for an audience member.

It was an exultant show, and anything but robotic. But it was also an oldies show from a performer who probably has something more to say now.

Lauryn Hill’s tour continues in Washington (Dec. 15); Boston (Dec. 18); Red Bank, N.J. (Dec. 22); Huntington, N.Y., (Dec. 26); and Port Chester, N.Y. (Dec. 28). Information: lauryn-hill.com.

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