CHECK OUT THE LATEST
Oversized baby bottles lit up the Horden Pavilion as dancers wearing “LA” snapbacks, black singlets and booty shorts skipped onto the stage. Instantly, we were transported to Lily Allen world. Her characteristically satirical humour and determination to put her own twist on modern pop culture abounded.
The refrains of “Uh Uh, Uh Oh” bounced off the walls before Allen stepped out clad in a full-body fluoro yellow playsuit, looking fabulous for the opener and title song of her latest album, Sheezus. Hello Sydney and welcome to the Lily Allen show.
Enthusiastic singing disguised as female screams of “Give me the crown, bitch, I wanna be Sheezus” was then backed by another of Allen’s recent releases, and one that also bears the parlance for female dogs in the chorus. Hard Out Here sounded and the dancers re-emerged, now clad in dog masks. Allen, as always, kept her tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Standing centre stage, Allen moved in-sync with the dancers as she did in the track’s somewhat controversial music video. Another easy sing-a-long for the crowd, the enthusiasm was high and Allen told fans that she thought Sydney could “have more” than Melbourne did the previous night.
Allen broke away from this year’s release with the classic LDN. Ending with some harder bass, the dancers came back on stage to bump and grind a little with Allen and the crowd was encouraged to jump. Everyone’s At It highlighted the skills of the guitar and keyboard support and Allen took advantage of this time to leave for a costume change. With the stage darkened as Allen changed outfits, her London twang and shrill laugh filled the air: “Should we have a party in my hotel room after this?”
From there, Allen, now clad in high-waisted watermelon shorts and a black leather jacket, treated fans to a number of funny anecdotes and some humorous banter. It certainly wasn’t lost on us when she used the word “hashtag” during an apology for her G-string getting tangled, as well as thanking the crowd for the “fruity” condom thrown on stage. Her good nature continued as she explained that she was unsure if fans were being generous or if “chucking shit” at her was a bad thing. Still, she picked up a necklace on stage and put it on.
As Long As I Got You began and merrily skipped along till crowd favourite 22, which was followed by Who’d Have Known, Life For Me and Smile. The crowd was a mix of much younger Allen fans who danced and sang along with women who’d now hit their 30s, many of them British.
The set rolled on with more cuts from Sheezus, including L8 CMMR and Close Your Eyes, but now the energy had started to wane. After asking the sound guy if she could sit on the stage, she displayed her considerable vocal prowess with Littlest Things. It was then something of an effort to regain the pace of the show, despite attempts made to involve the crowd more.
A standout was URL Batman, which was followed by Allen confessing to a flu after wielding a mouth spray between songs. Fuck You was enjoyed by all, with middle fingers raised high in the air, before Allen left the stage saying she’d be back “in a few years.” Though she did manage to return for an encore.
She ended with the ’90s dance-inspired Bass Like Home, which should have seen more involvement than it did, but the audience seemed more inclined to sing than dance. It was strongly buffered either side by The Fear and It’s Not Fair, which saw the highest amount of excitement of the night. “That’s more like it!” exclaimed Allen.
You could imagine what the show would have looked like in a festival setting. Forget viewers seated on the periphery and instead envision a mammoth sea of people dancing. Off the back of some grand performances in Europe, it would be fair to say that this round of sideshows is probably not the reception Allen is used to. The audience just can’t compare in terms of energy and size, and as a result Allen herself perhaps lost a bit of enthusiasm, despite putting on a great show. Luckily, Splendour will give Aussie fans a chance to redeem themselves.
Photo: Lily Allen At Melbourne Festival Hall, 2014 / Photo: Ashley Mar