Monday, September 29, 2014

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: Lily Allen is 'Sheezus' at Terminal 5

If you had spoken to me over the summer, I was literally seeing so many artists live over the course of a week, I was this close to being burnt out (waking up at 4AM to see them perform probably had something to do with it). Now, it's nearly October and my concert dry spell had clearly gone on for so long I couldn't even remember the last artist I saw live (for those keeping track, it was Jennifer Lopez). But, huzzah! For the clouds have parted and I'm back on the concert train. On Tuesday night, I headed uptown to Terminal 5, meeting up with Jamie, the fab voice behind Music Is My King Size Bed to see Lily Allen knock it out of the park in all her Sheezus glory.

If you've never seen Lily perform live before, I'm here to tell you that she lives up to expectation of being full of candor and fun. Her live set was littered with waist-high, oversized plastic baby bottles that provided light sources throughout her performance. She also traveled with a live backing band and a troupe of female dancers -- the latter being something I wasn't really expecting. When I think of Lily Allen, I don't typically see a lot of popping and wiggling around unless its in the ironic sense but she certainly proved me wrong and in stiletto heels, no less. She also offered up not one, not two, but three costume changes (#ProperPopstarAlert).

Much of the material stemmed from Sheezus, which of course is a great thing. The album is fantastic and in my opinion her most reliably cohesive. But old favorites from previous albums were also joyfully batted around with (especially from previous album, It's Not Me, It's You), including "Not Fair", "The Fear", "22", "LDN" (in several choruses, she replaced "London" with "NYC Town"), "Everyone's At It", and especially "F*ck You" (complete with Lily and the crowd's middle fingers in the air throughout).

Sheezus-fueled highlights included my favorite cut from the record, "URL Badman" and the hand-clappy "As Long As I Got You", as well as -- of course -- the encore jam "Hard Out Here". The latter was performed with her dancers wearing dog masks. Yup, it happened. But suspiciously missing from the Sheezus cuts offered? "Air Balloon". No sign of the single at all throughout the set. It wasn't really missed -- it is kind of a red herring on the album, now isn't it -- and perhaps its a reference to Lily's own feelings about the song? Who knows...

In addition to released material, she offered up an unexpected cover of Jhene Aiko's "The Worst" (when introducing the song, she talked about how she was immediately impressed after hearing it on the radio and was happy to hear "real music"). She also asked the crowd to get properly "turnt" with her to "Bass Like Home", a song she'd only released on SoundCloud during the World Cup madness. According to Lily, she tried to release the song this way but "some c*nt" at the label thought they could make some money off it and it was pulled. To be quite honest, it's a shame this wasn't a proper single or released with Sheezus -- it's a banger full of loud, house-fire bass. But you can score the song for free when you give Warner your email addy so...worth it in the end.

The pinnacle moment came when she began introducing "Smile", the song that started her career. She snarked that the song came out ten years ago (can you believe?!?) so she is officially old and if we all remember it, than we are, too. She performed the song live with a bit of a reggae-esque dance breakdown twist toward the end with lots of audience call and response.

Overall, Lily was so much fun to see live. She seemed so happy and feeding off the energy of the crowd. Sheezus is available for purchase now and if you have the chance, check out Lily live during the rest of her Sheezus Tour! Keep preachin' for the ladies, Lily!

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