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Oldies But Goldies: Lily Allen At Roseland, April 20th, 2009

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(This is less than two weeks into rock nyc and I was still trying to simplify my writing to the very bare bones, and not finding it easy. Reading this review is a reminder as to how great Lily was, and how meh she became. I happened to be listening to Martha Wainwright earlier today and the same thing happened to her… they couldn’t sustain it – IL)

The back up band was a bit nondescript, the mix was screwed up on the first two songs, she didn’t perform “Alfie” and otherwise Lily was excellent at Roseland last night.

I arrived halfway through the opening band’s set and I have one valuable piece of advise for them: CHANGE YOUR NAME. They are a fun young band with amusing songs and a pleasing attitude; they sound a bit like the B-52’s and they sure should have a career but I, for one, had no interest in a band named Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head.

Lily stands center stage chain smoking cigarettes and giggling before telling us she wrote the next song for her mother though everyone thinks its for a guy thereby single handledly saving it from the lyrical banality I heard on “It’s Not Me, It’s You” . The song is “Chinese” and it’s a stellar version of a suddenly much sweeter song.

Actually, every song is an improvement, best of all Lily dancing furiously to a roaring “Back to The Start” and the band jamming hard. Even the acoustic portion was pretty good with “He Wasn’t there” a particular pleasure.

Lily is a very good live performer -she reminds me of Courtney Love in that they both give the appearance of intimacy where no intimacy exists. She takes off her hoodie and later a blouse leaving only a wife beater. “Can you see my nipples?” Lily ask (to quote Obama: yes we can), later still she flashes the audience. It’s cheeky not nasty, the set is all in white and Lily is so, ahem, innocent, she deserves the purity. Innocence is not synonymous with good: innocence means not knowing… there is something oblivious to Allen’s effects even as she manipulates them.

She encores with “Smile,” “The Fear” and “Womanizer” and it’s a knock out conclusion.

In the end Lily Allen doesn’t have potential, she has surpassed any question of potential. Who knows what tomorrow brings? Drugs are a tricky business as is celebrityhood, “It’s Not Me, It’s You” did not light up the charts (she should pull off another single -not “F– You”, a crap song and a lousy idea for an EP) and she should start the process of becoming a Long Term Artist. Having said all that, Lily Allen proved it all last night.

Setlist

Everyone’s At It
I Could Say
22
Oh My God / Everything’s Just Wonderful
LDN
Back to the Start
He Wasn’t There
Littlest Things
Smile
The Fear
(Day ‘n’ Nite snippet)
Womanizer
(Britney Spears cover)
Fuck You
Not Fair

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