Following a brief absence from the music scene, Lily Allen has catapulted herself back onto the pop charts. No longer the seemingly carefree and precocious young adult, Allen has settled down — she is married and has two children. Allen, however, is still the same unabashedly crude and playful pop star that her fans know and love, and her U.S. headline tour brought a colorful explosion of expletives and catchy choruses.
The stage at Allen’s Sept. 25 performance in Terminal 5 was lined with rows of oversized baby bottles, a nod to Allen’s new role as a mother. But Allen, known for subverting expectations, surprised the audience when the bottles lit up in neon colors and pulsed to the beat of the music.
With her rainbow-colored hair, she opened with “Sheezus,” the title track from her recent album. The name of the song, a play on Kanye West’s “Yeezus” was seen by many as a not-so-subtle jibe at the controversial rapper. Addressing the reference further, Allen sampled West’s “New Slaves” when transitioning between songs, which mixed well with the more electronic vibe of Allen’s new album and proved Allen’s album name is more playful than hostile.
Always one for theatrics, Allen stripped down to sequined hot pants early in the show. She stayed true to the in-your-face style of her earlier musical career while performing older tracks, such as “Smile” and “Littlest Things.”
Not long into the show, however, the audience saw the newer face of Allen, as the show began to focus more on her most recent releases. The tracks from her latest album, like “As Long As I’ve Got You” and “Life For Me,” gave some insight into Allen’s personal life. Her message was one of brutal honesty — her life as a wife and mother is anything but perfect.
Embracing the unconventional throughout her set and taking a detour from her own repertoire, Allen performed a number of covers of current R&B hits, including Jhené Aiko’s “The Worst” and Ty Dolla $ign’s “Or Nah.” Throughout these covers, Allen kept her London accent and her voice was best on display in the slightly more stripped-down tracks.
Always notoriously outspoken, Allen did not shy away from a little political commentary. Dedicating the scathing track “URL Badman” to those who leak celebrity nude photos online and “F*** You” to the disingenuous who attended last week’s People’s Climate March for nothing but the attention, Allen’s performance proved at times to be a provocation more than anything else.
Although her onstage speeches may have seemed to be cries for attention, her fans did not seem to care. Allen’s performance showed a new side of her life and, based on the enthusiastic crowd, her fans enjoyed hearing about it.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 30 print edition. Email Perdi Higgs at [email protected]