Kicking off her all-ages show with “LDN” and “Nan You’re A Window Shopper” must be Lily Allen’s way of dispelling the pre-show jitters. By “Shame For You” she was slinky, relaxed (although worried she had the flu) and ready to deliver her best song, “Everything’s Just Fine”, (dedicated to “bank managers, mortgage lenders, and fashion magazine editors.”) with a bit of fire and sex appeal, of which she shows no small measure of self-awareness.
The backup band, fresh-faced and dressed in almost-matching outfits, was kept under fairly tight reins. The punchy three-piece horn section had me especially longing for some extended madness a la Madness or the Specials, given the upbeat ska skankin’ that Allen traffics in so heavily. These AOR-type tours are always scripted down to the last four bars, but how else would you stoke the Starmaker Machine in the MySpace era?
Allen’s songs have an uncanny way of becoming anthems, at least for the five 20-ish ladies assembled in front of me who sang along to every word. Her lyrics deftly balance opposites or brutally cut to the quick like this bit from “Not Big”: “I can see it in your face as you break it to me gently that you really must think you’re great / Well let’s see how you feel in a couple of weeks when I’ve worked my way through your mates.” This number then breaks into a happy feel-good chorus that wouldn’t be out of place in a child’s nursery rhyme, except for the references to her ex’s tiny love pole and being “rubbish in bed.”
“Knock ’Em Out” got a brief cheer with its “Big Chief” intro and sample but her radio hit “Smile” seemed anti-climactic by show’s end. An acoustic “Heart of Glass” (the Blondie number) encore showed that Lily can wail when she needs to, flu bugs notwithstanding.