The KISS principle, if you’re not as yet familiar, is an acronym coined by the Navy in the 60s that stands for ‘keep it simple, stupid’ - the belief is that by avoiding unnecessary complexity, greater levels of acceptance and interaction can be achieved. And that was precisely what Miss Lily Allen served up with gusto at her intimate showcase at the Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand last night.
Skipping on stage in what can easily be coined as ‘inmate-chic’ (an orange two piece that could’ve walked straight off the set of OITNB), 19 year old Grey Lynn local and up and coming artist BENE kicked off the night evoking the sass of Lily Allen circa 2006.
Strutting back and forth as the spotlights flashed, the young entertainer hit the audience with a slew of yet-to-be-released numbers. However, it was her current hit on the radio Soaked that got the audience pumped for what was to come. Boasting a rebellious innocence and a sound reminiscent of NZ's Rockquest, BENE’s band (made up of Pia on the guitar, Isaac on keys, Felix on drums and Dylan on bass) made just as much of an impression as she did, with perhaps a touch too much enthusiasm on the bass drums at times. But, if her breathy vocals and synthy tunes (a homage perhaps to the Blade Runner soundtrack) are anything to go by, we’re excited to see what else this cheeky Kiwi newcomer has in store.
How do you herald the arrival of the British sass queen herself? By chanting over the loudspeaker, “Lily, Lily, Lily f*cking Allen” of course. And so the lovely Miss Allen appeared with her blond locks in a double top knot, sauntering on stage in silver Louboutins, light blue pants cinched at the ankles with a sequined crop and white hoodie on top. Launching straight into some serious synthy goodness from her latest album No Shame, Come On Then had the crowd shrieking at the top of their lungs.
Following on with little time to Waste, Lily had the crowd dancing - the tune easily transporting us to an island where imaginary cocktails in hand were compulsory. Speaking of sunnier times, Lily continued with the heatwave-appropriate LDN as the modest but effective light pillars bathed the stage in a psychedelic sunset of purples and pinks.
Finally addressing the audience with a “Hey! You alright, Auckland?”, the beloved British singer, songwriter dropped it low, much to the crowd’s delight, as she grooved to What You Waiting For; even managing to cover up a minor verse slip up with her dance moves.
Flanked my her ‘band’ (made up of keyboardist and mixer Tevan as well as guitarist and mixer Jody), the tinkling of piano keys signalled the arrival of My One where her flawless vocal far surpassed her LP rendition. This was clearly sorcery, Miss Allen.
Next, it was time for a jaunt to a New Orleans bar with the likes of Knock ‘Em Out where Lily had the audience’s hands in the air as she showed off her rap credentials. Slowing things down a little with Lost My Mind, Miss Allen opted to bathe the stage in blue light as she hit those breathy high notes (despite a croaky throat caused by the flight over) while reminding us that her songs are still as relatable and relevant as ever.
Perhaps that was Lily Allen's superpower all along, the ability to weave into a song the words we all wanted to say, the feelings we all felt but were never brave enough to admit.
Continuing on with a song she wrote 13-14 years ago, Miss Allen segued from her oldest, crowd favourite Smile, to her most recent, the yet-to-be released and extremely catchy Party Line - another fine example that her music continues to transcend age. Following on with a cover of Lykke Li’s Deep End, Lily stopped to sip on a mug of warm tea with manuka honey she had acquired from the Matakana markets that morning after a snorkelling trip to Goat Island; graciously she thanked the crowd for coming out tonight, without which she wouldn’t get to do all the fun things she gets to do.
Kicking off her Louboutins momentarily, Lily regaled the crowd with the morbidly romantic Pushing Up Daisies; a song performed in a manner that easily would led one to believe that even if only one person showed up to the show, Lily would’ve still had the best time out of all of us.
Opting to bare the vulnerability of motherhood, Lily’s soulful performance of Three couldn’t have possibly left a dry eye in the arena. Continuing to tug at the heartstrings, next up was the dramatic Everything To Feel Something - an epic display of Lily’s perfect pitch and command over the octaves.
Further proof that she was ahead of her time and is still relevant to this day, Lily spoke of her love/hate relationship with social media before launching into The Fear, punctuating the crowd pleasing singalong by saying that “nothing’s changed (with how she feels), just more wrinkles”. Hitting the high notes effortlessly, Miss Allen’s sugary vocals paired perfectly with the twang of Jody’s guitar in Higher before she crooned the heartbreaking number Family Man.
Casually asking Tevan for the time, the little sass queen answered her own question with “it’s 5 o’clock in the morning”... the opening line of Who’d Have Known, before continuing to let the good times roll with the catchy, Matador-inspired beats of Not Fair that had the crowd clapping along excitedly.
Returning with a trio for an encore, the lovely Lily opted for the soul-baring but still catchy Apples, the hand-gesture-friendly Trigger Bang before dedicating her final number F*ck You (a song originally inspired by George W Bush) to the one and only Mango Mussolini (Trump); who she deemed THE ultimate first world problem.
With no room to hide or as she would say ‘fuck it up’, Lily Allen’s Auckland performance was satisfyingly compelling sans frills or fuss. After all this time, her signature sound remains undeniable - she’s kept things simple and honest (both in her music and live performance); inviting us to commiserate through the tough times, helping us find the funny when we’ve lost the will to laugh and ensuring we feel less alone in our darkest hours of despair. Perhaps that is simply all we’ve ever needed.
Lily Allen set list:
- Come On Then
- What You Waiting For
- My One
- Knock ‘Em Out
- Lost My Mind
- Party Line
- Deep End (Lykke Li cover)
- Pushing Up Daisies
- Everything to Feel Something
- The Fear
- Family Man
- Who’d Have Known
- Not Fair
- Trigger Bang
- F*ck You