Armed with a repertoire of quick witted lyrics and a well sourced range of samples, Lily Allen ought to be following the success of her debut album, “Alright, Still” with a confirmatory and celebratory tour.
Instead, much of what is on offer hints at what might be, making for a frustrating and presumably hastily assembled foray through her album and beyond.
The good bits are almost, without exception, her songs – most of which stand close scrutiny. Lyrically, they are, by turns, observant (‘LDN’), bitter (‘Not Big’), funny (‘Alfie’) and twisted celebrations (“Smile” and “Friday Night”). They are almost all great pop songs.
Additionally, neither Sugababes nor Girls Aloud are likely to reference a leaking colostomy bag in a pop song, and even better, deliver it with a straight face (‘Nan, You’re A Window Shopper’).
Elsewhere, the execution is less certain. She moans that her management has told her sing louder, when in fact, belting it out does little for her voice. A more astute sound engineer may allow her vocals, which sound great on the ballad, ‘Littlest Things,’ more space, rather than swamping them with a not always complementary brass section.
At times the performance rides a fine line between great pop and cabaret, with the cover versions of the Kooks and Keane a particularly ill-advised idea. Even the majority of the between song banter seems forced and scripted.
Allen is precocious and on occasion, irritating, but inherently more fun & interesting than anyone else’s idea of what she should sound and act like. ‘Smile’ might be the one occasion here where she gets the balance just right: the exact midpoint between Kathleen Hanna and the woman she cattily immortalises in song, Cheryl Tweedy.