Lily Allen @ the O2 Brixton Academy, November 28 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Gigs - 2009 Gigs
Written by Kat Smith   

Say what you will about the "Smile" singer, but in her short career Lily Allen has gained the rare ability to take one on the chin just as well as she dishes it out.  While attempting to weather the media storm, the fiesty Londoner has channeled her rants into both her lyrics and personal blogs.  Whether she’s speaking out against piracy or writing songs about, “Supporting the troops but not the war,” Lily is in the eye of the beholder.

As a fan and skeptic in equal measure, I wasn’t expecting much of her on stage performance.  She had previously struck me as the kind of intriguing anti-starlet who was more famous for her mouth than her voice.  I am pleased to report that I couldn’t have been more wrong about Ms. Allen.

Lily Allen’s performance at the Brixton Academy revealed a side of the 23 year old that the media prefers to ignore: a normal side.  Well, at least as normal as you can get with a live-feed of your face displayed on three giant screens in front of hundreds of people.

Charmingly self-deprecating, Lily couldn’t resist a giggle every time she noticed that there was a crowd watching her, perhaps in because she was hiding behind the thick fringe of her various wigs.  She explained, “I wish I didn’t have such a big forehead, then I wouldn’t to have this fringe all the time that gets in my eyes and makes me cry.”

Underneath the fake hair, however, it is clear that Lily Allen has got the brains to carry the wit and reality of her music.  Her cynical opening number, "Everyone’s At It" is an invigorating anthem about the hypocrisy of about substance abuse.  Her set was often danceable, and she broke the norm even before her set began by allowing DJs to entertain the crowd instead of relying on the blandness of usual venue interlude music. Some of the set-list’s expected favourites included a refreshingly honest take on the more, ahem, lackluster parts of a relationship with "It’s Not Fair".

Thankfully for her current beau, Sam Cooper, Lily dedicates the shy-cutesy-hand-holding type ballad, "Who’d Have Known" to him instead.  Her voice sounds higher than it tends to be on her albums, but the variation between each song convinced me that there were no smoke and mirrors to disguise the singer’s real voice.

Lily frequently deviated from her own material with a range of covers, including a stripped down version of The Kook’s "Naïve" and a glammed-up version of Britney Spears’ "Womanizer".  But not all of the songs went over well, as her duet adaption of the SOS Band’s  "Just Be Good To Me" - with rapping support act Professor Green - was an awkward hiccup in the middle of the show.

Lily later showed off her balancing skills by holding a microphone whilst handing out pints of Guinness to a few lucky front-row fans.  While the generous act was likely a promotional stunt for the brand, it also promoted the image of Lily as your everyday Briton buying a round for her mates.

Love her or hate her, you have to respect a girl who’s willing to go balls out for her music as she finally comes to grips with the fear and the fame that are riding on her name.


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