Lily Allen at House of Blues, 9/13/2014
Lily Allen House of Blues September 13, 2014
During the span of her decade-long career, Lily Allen has managed to attract consistent press attention for her outspoken, disparaging remarks towards pop-music heavyweights, and when she dropped new album Sheezus earlier this year, that bodacious attitude came right along with it in full force.
On the album, and as she performed to a sold-out crowd Saturday night at the House of Blues, Allen constantly references the major pop music girls, especially those within the ranks of Miley and Katy Perry. Just take her stage set-up, for example; the HOB stage was lined with giant baby bottles that lit up with bright LEDs, a cartoonish spectacle that follows the trend set by Miley Cyrus in a number of her live performances.
To start off the show, Allen walked out onstage wearing a baby-blue onesie and a sparkly pink backpack. Her recently dyed pink locks were tied up in what looked like cornrowed pigtails, an outlandish hair trend that has recently been made popular by Katy Perry. Allen's third costume change of the night draped the singer into a flowy, multicolored tarp, resembling a costume Lady Gaga would wear on her Monster Ball Tour.
The "Sheezus" music video looks exactly as if it came right out of M.I.A's repertoire, and even the album title itself plays around with Kanye West's similarly titled LP. Even the little details, such as her background dancer's dog masks and purposely-sloppy choreography, make it seem like Allen is always parodying something, even if it's hard to pinpoint exactly what that something is. Is it all just a coincidence, though? Or is it a matter of stealing ideas? Knowing Lily Allen, it's neither.
Allen makes it quite clear that it's all just a huge criticism of different roles in the music industry. Quite frankly, she doesn't care, and she is not afraid of making that known. In a recent interview discussing her five-year hiatus, she admitted -- "I felt like I still needed to work, and this is the only thing I know how to do, so..." Brush up on what exactly took place during this hiatus, and you may begin to look at Lily's antics from a different perspective.
During her time off, Allen moved to the British countryside to escape the constant attention. She tragically had two miscarriages, spent a few weeks in a psychiatric clinic for depression, and eventually gave birth to two healthy children after that. Knowing this, it's sort of nice to see that she's really back, spunky as ever, frolicking and wobbling around stage and flashing her butt to the crowd like it was some kind of dare between her and her friends backstage.
She isn't afraid to voice her opinion, and she's a smart woman who knows what she's doing.
Story continues on the next page.
Looking at things purely from a relevant-music standpoint, though, there are some flaws in how Allen is carrying out her current album era and live show. It seems as if she is going through a phase where emulating other artists from a satirical standpoint is making up the bulk of her own work, as opposed to coming up with entirely original material.
Of course, it does take thought to think up the highly entertaining song and video for "Hard Out Here," but especially Saturday night, it seemed like Allen was relying on the flashy lights and twerking dancers to do a large amount of the work. Perhaps this focus on other artists is due to Allen finally being content with her personal life and having nothing of that sort to write about, and that's great for her. The problem is that her performances can come off as a bit artificial.
However, the show wasn't boring. Watching Allen sing her classic hit "Smile" and seeing how she induced just about the whole audience to raise both middle fingers up and do a little happy dance during "Fuck You" makes you realize that all the extra shenanigans are just clouding Allen's talent. Strip it all away, and you get a spunky, charismatic British girl with a crazy good voice.
The highlight of the night for me was when Lily gave the crowd some insight as to what the next song was about. "This song is about how my man is really fucking good in bed," she laughed. Now, if the average artist introduced one of their songs this way, he or she would usually go on to sing some metaphor-ridden tune about pleasure and intimacy. But right off the bat, Allen pranced around singing, "Good lover, good lover -- late cummer, he's a late cummer!"
No matter what point she's at in her career, Allen's bluntness will always be hilarious and refreshing. The Twitter feuds may be a bit much at times, but in the current time and place, it's all working in her favor. Praise Sheezus.
Personal Bias: I've only recently gotten into Lily's music, and the only album I've fully listened to is Sheezus.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I FEEL LIKE RUPAUL!"
Random Notebook Dump: Other artists should take notes from Lily's merchandise designers. I ALMOST bought a shirt, and that's really saying something.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.