Lily Allen at Somerset House (London) on July 16

A review of Lily Allen at Somerset House (London) on July 16, 2007

, Staff

London, England& –& “That was really special,” Lily Allen says as she wipes her eyes. “That was one of my five special moments.” The British singer/songwriter was reveling in the adoration of the thousands of screaming fans at her concert at the historic Somerset House in London on Monday when she was overcome with emotion. Allen has experienced a lot of these special moments (like playing at the acclaimed Glastonbury Festival) since she cancelled the remainder of her American tour this spring. Although the 22-year-old held to both of her Boston club performances earlier this year, she called off several remaining shows, citing boredom due to endless drinking and singing – oh the monotony. But at her Somerset show Allen revealed another possible reason for terminating her American tour: She is not too keen on the United States.

“This next song is dedicated to George W. Bush,” Allen said before singing “Everything’s Just Wonderful,” a sarcastic song that blasts “the man” from her debut album Alright, Still. “And the United States of America,” she continued in an exaggerated southern accent. Then, back in her own “Mockney” style, “which is a really, really, really great place.” Ouch.

But Allen quickly got over the bitterness she felt from her nixed US tour (and subsequent bashing from some American fans) and gave an extraordinary performance for her hometown crowd. The North London native got down to business from the start by taking off her heels after playing her opening songs “LDN” and “Nan, You’re a Window Shopper.” It was “a fucking stupid idea to try and perform in them,” said the usually sneaker-clad singer as she quickly removed the uncomfortable shoes and did the remainder of the show Joss Stone-style.

While Allen’s routine normally doesn’t vary much from concert to concert, she added two new elements to the Somerset show. She “played” a bright pink electric guitar as she sang “Sunday Morning,” a track that is not on her album and normally not in her shows. I put “played” in quotations there because the extent of Allen’s musicianship was her strumming one chord two different times during the song. Not that her lack of guitar experience stopped any of the fans from cheering at the long-awaited notes. “Sorry, I only know one chord,” laughed the ever-facetious Allen. “Next time I’m here I’ll know three.”

Another variation from Allen’s typical performance occurred when Lynval Golding, a former member of the Specials, a 70s ska band, joined the diminutive singer on stage. The two went all out with vivacious performances of “Blank Expression,” an Allen cover, and the brass-filled “Gangsters.” It was during these songs that Allen’s energy stood out, as she bounced around the stage in a white strapless baby-doll dress. Because of her outfit, combined with her straight-cut bangs and bubbly giggle, one could almost mistake Allen for one of her 10-year-old fans jumping about on stage… if only she weren’t gulping from a can of Guinness and chain-smoking pre-lit cigarettes.

Just when it appeared that Allen was going to finish her show routinely, with a slightly off-key yet wildly entertaining performance of “Alfie,” she did it again. Well, she didn\’t really do anything. It was Alfie – yes, the actual “little brother in his bedroom smoking weed” Alfie– who added an extra spark to the end of the show by jumping onstage and dancing with his sister during his namesake song.
Overall, Allen’s last London performance before her next tour was nearly spectacular from start to finish. Yes, her vocals were a bit off sometimes. And, yes, some of her younger fans’ parents gaped at Allen as she obstinately swore and scoffed at poorly endowed boyfriends. But on that night, in the courtyard of a 16th century royal palace, the princess of Brit-pop proved that she will be sticking around, whether she breaks the US or not.

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