Review of Lily Allen @ Manchester Apollo
25th November 2014
“I haven’t played Manchester for F’ing Years” quips Allen as she emerges on stage newly blonde but as bolshie as ever. Making her ‘mumback’ after a four year hiatus, the straight talking songbird is back on the road to promote her third studio album, Sheezus.
Busting out the lyrics “I’m born again” this is not so much a reinvention as an evolution, Lily’s caustic brand of social commentary remains delightfully intact. Now littered with tales of motherhood and marriage, it’s safe to say her gritty observations have grown up alongside her audience.
Opening the show with the album’s title track, the sore throat Lily complains of in no way hampers, as she belts out the new material to a receptive crowd. Rejecting the offer of meds she jokes “now there’s a first”, tosses the remedy to one side and gets stuck right in.
Unsurprisingly it’s the classics that receive rapturous response with the auditorium singing back every single word of The Fear, LDN, Smile and Littlest Things.
Time for 22, Lily’s lyrical lambasting of a near 30 year old still going out AND, shock horror, trying to enjoy it. “Now I am that girl and I still want to have fun” she admits with a giggle. Perhaps she’s not the sullen girl we fell in love with, but her tongue-in-cheek humour and cutting honesty live on.
Midway through the show her live band provide a soundtrack to the obligatory costume change, a witty mash up of Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror, Lily shouts from stage right “I’m just changing”. No Gaga, our girl goes for one modest change swapping a simple sheer midi with serious swish factor to blinged out sequin joggers and a midriff exposing crop.
Surrounded by giant flashing baby bottles, Lily wears her mummy status on her sleeve as she talks of awkward post-baby sex and quite literally sings her husband’s praises in album tracks Close your Eyes and Life for Me.
A touching interlude is provided by the crowd singing Happy Birthday to Lily’s daughter Ethel, who we learn turned three on show day. Then, things get real emosh as our storyteller relents to a stunning rendition of Somewhere Only We Know from THAT John Lewis ad because “it is the time of year after all”.
As we’re reminded by her encore it’s Hard out Here for a bitch, so instead of judging Lily Allen’s musical comeback, enjoy it. Authentic, sarcastic and actually incredibly sweet this London girl is still making us Smile; long may Sheezus reign.
Review by Jen Cox