-2-5-07, Lily Allen @ The Music Box at The Henry Fonda Theater, Los Angeles, CA
Watching British pop export Lily Allen perform is like a vacation in the Bahamas wearing bovver boots.
Making her U.S. rounds to promote her stateside debut and new CD,
"Alright, Still," Allen sold-out her only LA appearance at The Music
Box at The Henry Fonda Theater, on Monday, February 5th, as part of
MTV's Discover or Download Tour.
Allen, who also happens to be the daughter of actor / producer Keith
Allen, and goddaughter to late-Clash frontman, Joe Strummer, is another
internet promo phenom.
Showcasing her songs on the popular MySpace, and building a fan base in
the UK, it was only a matter of time before she would reach the US
underground scene and ultimately MTV, where her message of female
empowerment has struck a chord with fans, looking to wipe Spice "Girl
Power" from memory.
Outside the Fonda, fans lined up, scalpers harrassed, and security was
tight for the 21 year-old singer, whose sound is reminiscent of the
Two-Tone days of ska music by bands like The Specials, and Madness, but
with a hip-hop element similar to fellow Brit / Sri Lankan rapper,
M.I.A., and a dash of Cibo Matto added for good measure.
With a lone DJ as an opening act onstage, Allen took the stage on
schedule as the clock struck 10pm. LA crowds tend to get restless
quickly, and Blackberry's were in full-effect throughout a crowd that
can best be described as, "Silverlake arthouse meets Beverly Hills
couture." Not that it should be a surprise to anyone. Allen is rumored
to be the next face of Chanel, and her music is in constant rotation on
LA's independent music champion, Indie 103.1FM, where Allen's song
"Smile," was premiered on DJ Sal Bisla's syndicated radio show,
Spotted in the crowd was a "semi-drunk," but very fab, blogger Perez Hilton
, and musician / actress Jenny Lewis, who much to my delight informed me that she, "Also drives a Ford Focus."
Heavy on the upbeat, and even thicker on groove thanks to her excellent
back-up band, that included a 3-piece horn section, a booming bass
player, guitar, and keys, Allen entered the stage wearing a short,
white dress making quite the classy fashion statement rarely seen on a
popster, unless you're Christina Aguilera (lately.) Like a reluctant
diva, Allen's easy-going demeanor surfaced immediately.
"Hello, LA!," shouted Allen, before quickly jumping into her latest
single, "LDN," followed by other strong cuts off "Alright, Still,"
including "Knock 'Em Out," "Shame For You," adapting the melody of Dawn
Penn's "No, no, no," "Nan You're A Window Shopper," and "Not Big,"
about and dedicated to, according to Allen, "guys with small penises."
Vocally strong and with warm, confident enthusiasm, Allen isn't the
most energetic live performer; however, what she lacks in energy, she
clearly makes up for in charm.
Flirting with fans, Allen is the girl you'd like to down pints with at
the pub, with a spliff while throwing F-bombs at annoying mugs.
As a follow-up to Gwen Stefani's "lovers reggae / ska chick," original
style, Allen is no imitator. Where Stefani's style exudes a baby-doll
innocence, Allen's look is rough, but refined. Think 60's model Twiggy
meets Marianne Faithfull during her best Mick Jagger days.
Mid-way through her set, Allen performed a duo of covers by Keane
"Everybody's Changing," and The Kooks, "Naive," both to a reggae beat,
then soonafter announced she was back to her own music, which was
"better than theirs," according the singer.
Closing her 60 min. set with the breakout hit, "Smile," a song not to
be confused with the classic Charlie Chaplin song of the same name
about looking at the brighter side of life, Allen's "Smile," is an ode
to the art of a jilted lover's revenge.
"At first when I see you cry, yeah it makes me smile, yeah it makes me
smile," the crowd sang along in unison, hands waving side to side in
Leaving the stage, but returning for an encore to perform "Blank
Expression," by The Specials, and the hilarious "Alfie," about a lazy
brother who spends all his time smoking weed and playing video games,
it was the perfect ending to a show that lived up to its hype, further
establishing Allen as the soundtrack to summer.
-Matt Munoz, Bakotopia