Wednesday, April 11, 2007

lily allen with the bird and the bee - 4/7/07, boston

we headed down to boston this past weekend to check out lily allen's gig at the roxy. she's playing next month in new york, but at a venue 3-4 times the size, and i wanted to see her in a somewhat intimate space before she exploded. turns out she's already done that. tickets on craigslist were even a little outrageously priced, but not like the amy winehouse ones in nyc ($150 each!), and the joint was packed.

i've noticed that boston crowds generally suck, and this one was no exception. it seems to be par for the course that the show was all ages -- i saw
the decemberists there two weeks ago, and the crowd was equally teenaged and irritating. to be fair, lily does have tween appeal, but she also does say "cunt" with a good dose of ferocity.

the bird and the bee opened, and i wasn't prepared to be impressed. i downloaded a song via a week before the show, and, while it didn't get me interested, i liked them a lot more live. they had two backup singers, which was cool, and a multi-instrumentalist who played xylophone among other things. nothing really intense, but a nice sugary sweet set.

the dj at the roxy was probably the worst one ever. at an ostensibly indie show, all the set music was 30-second clips of bangers from the 70s and 80s. you'd never have known disco died the way this guy was churning them out. he added the occasional canned scratching sounds for effect, but i would rather have sat in silence for half an hour. the best part was that he was on board for the latin night that started at 10, which gave us the hint that 7.30 wasn't the door time, it was show time. what is up with the early shows, boston?

after half an hour or so, lily came on to thunderous applause. she opened with "ldn" and segued right into "friday night." her energy was really high (she later admitted she was sober for her third gig in a row), but not infectious enough for the crowd to start moving. even as she went through her fuck-bureaucrats anthem "everything's just wonderful," and the impossibly dance-able "smile," the crowd remained still, with the exception of some drunk frat boys and a fight near the stage. this was no fault of lily's. she took her time and enjoyed her set, backed by a live band. The band, a nice touch, visibly enjoyed themselves as well, dancing along to the beat and smiling and laughing. midway through the set, half the band left and lily sang two acoustic songs, backed by guitar and piano. the first one was by keane, a song i didn't know, but the second was "naive" by the kooks. i liked her take on it, though it was pretty straightforward and more of a participatory song than anything else. highlights were definitely "not big," her rant about her boyfriend's small penis, which she prefaced with a funny monologue about tiny dicks in general. before "friend of mine," a hate song about a fake friend, lily informed the crowd that the girl this song is based on is now a crackhead. she sang the obligatory "littlest things" for her boyfriend at home, and encored with a cover of "heart of glass" and "alfie."

disregarding the crowd issues, lily's performance was spot-on, a good attempt at a live replication of the studio environment. i, however, feel like that's a problem. live never sounds as good as the studio, but the best artists compensate for that with audience involvement or live improvisation. with a full band at her disposal (a trumpet, trombone, sax and organ), there were only two solos. her songs are nowhere strict enough to disallow more improvisation, but it didn't happen. i would've liked to have seen more of that and more audience involvement (aside from the one-would-assume standard song stories, she only responded to a fight in the audience and someone smoking pot). worth the money and the time, definitely, but not good enough for me to go see her at roseland next month.

more pictures below:

1 comment:

teaknee said...

lily looks amazingly unchavvy in those piccies. at glasgow, she was all hoops and reebok classics. in fact, i'd say she looks pretty classy.