Just a couple of weeks ago I finally got the chance to see an old favorite of mine in all her newfound glory. Lily Allen made her return to Toronto at the Sound Academy, and she was just as crass, lovely, and above all as entertaining as I hoped she would be.
If you remember the Lily Allen of Alright, Still and It’s not me, it’s you days, you, like me, may have been slightly confused at Allen’s Sound Academy performance. I have always loved how Allen spoke her mind about every pop twink, rapper, and celebrity out there(even when it got her into trouble), but I wondered if she was still staying true to herself when I saw the decidedly “done” stage set up, the Black Milk Clothing clad backup dancers (?) and Allen herself all blinged out down to the tips of her Louboutin covered toes. While Allen may have for all appearances confused herself with Rihanna (truthfully someone with bad vision may have confused the two sexy songstresses on that stage), twerking, dancetroupe and designer heels aside, the moment Allen launched into her playful lament “Not Fair” it was clear that Allen had not abandoned her sassy self.
The remainder of the set continued to play up these two sides of Lily Allen: the wannabe diva, and the potty mouthed pop princess that we all came to love years ago. Trust me, I don’t begrudge Allen her reinvention, but I definitely enjoyed the show more when the singer stopped the attempted synchronised dancing and focused on what made her amazing in the first place: her lovely voice and her silly, witty ditties. “LDN”, “Smile” (even with the midsong remix) and “Littlest things” made me dance, smile and sigh just as much as they did when I first heard them. Maybe I was overthinking things, but Allen’s rendition of “the Fear” gave me a little pause, considering the out of place extravagance of the show, the costume changes and the hip hop/reggae vixen attempt that felt a little at odds with the lesson behind the song, but my misgivings gave way to enjoyment – that song is just too great to overanalyse and ruin. After being warmed up by these old favorites, I found myself easily won over by her newer material like “L8 CMMR” (way to brag Lil) and the irresistible show closer “Fuck You”, a song that far too aptly captures that feeling of wanting to flip the entire world off, while remaining as adorably British as ever…wait, that’s Lily Allen, not me.
So, while Allen may be going the way of Madonna with her multiple incarnations, rest assured that she can still sing her heart out while belching sweetly and dropping many a mean F-bomb along the way.
*photos by Nadia Elkharadly