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Avril Lavigne Review

Mark Jorgensen waves his fairy wand and indulges in teen angst at the Apollo

Written by . Published on September 26th 2011.


Avril Lavigne Review

"I still maintain that Complicated is a good tune," said a Manchester Confidential commissioning editor who, in the interests of his reputation, we’ll call Bimon Sinns.

This revelation was part of an invite to review the Manchester leg of Avril Lavigne’s Black Star tour at the Apollo. The pixy-like skater (sorry, sk8er) teen who burst onto the music scene with her attitude-laden pop punk is now a decade older, and I suspected her live crowd may have grown out of writing on backpacks in tippex too.

"Smile also had the lead guitarist piping up ‘I’m a dope ass pimp’, which sounded as credible as One Direction doing an NWA cover."

Wikipedia claims Lavigne is a ‘singer-songwriter, fashion designer, actress, and philanthropist,' notching five studio albums and her own fragrance. She’s a philanthropist? I presumed she’d slipped into the abyss, making good of royalties, but she’s evidently been a lot busier than I thought.

The huge crowd was a mixed bunch. Families, couples and confused late teens in Nirvana t-shirts (not sure that’s what Kurt Cobain had in mind); it had the feel of a school disco.

This may have been due in part to the support act, Lawson, who I’d never heard of but inexplicably but got the most raucous reception I’ve ever witnessed for a warm-up. They’re a boyband/rock band hybrid a la Mcfly. It was lost on me though. 

Then Avril arrived, waving a luminous fairy wand also sported by much of the crowd, looking as fresh faced and impishly pretty as I remembered. Philanthropy clearly does wonders for your complexion.

After a piano-backed version of Black Star, she left the stage before returning with the rocky What The Hell, as the crowd sang and waved their wands, including a chap next to me, whose attempts to look disgruntled at having to take the other half to the gig were slightly marred by him tapping a pink fairy wand on his leg. 

Avril-Lavigne-Live-1

Next up was Smile, which had nice guitar riffs, but as with many of her songs, was spoilt by the chorus - reverting from rock to pop cheese in a split second. Smile also had the lead guitarist piping up ‘I’m a dope ass pimp’, which sounded as credible as One Direction doing an NWA cover.

She then donned a guitar for a mash-up of Airplanes and My Happy Ending. I’m suspicious of whether it was just a prop because although I have no doubt she probably can play, her strumming arm looked distinctly ‘air guitar’. Cranking up the rock for I Always Get What I Want, she left the stage again before returning with Don’t Tell Me, a ballad that demonstrated she does actually have a strong voice beneath the persona. 

Avril then chucked out the perfunctory “Whenever I tour, I love playing <insert name of country as briefed by manager backstage>” and then insisted she perform a version of Coldplay’s Fix You. It was actually quite enjoyable, despite her forgetting some of the words.

She moved on to some of her more recognisable stuff, such as Girlfriend and Sk8er Boi. The crowd even took over and sang most of I’m With You, as Avril stood motionless and visibly overawed.

She returned for an encore of When You’re Gone and Complicated which, I have to admit, is unavoidably catchy. I even found myself absent-mindedly singing it on the bus on the way home.

The gig had left me a bit confused though. Usually when someone comes into the music business as a child, the stuff they release tends to evolve over time as the artist matures. But I don’t really feel that’s happened with Lavigne.

The new tracks still have a tone of teen angst – despite her now being 26. 

Nevertheless, I’ve seen a lot of acts pass through the Apollo and I can honestly say I’ve never seen crowd reaction like it. While I’ve got to give kudos to her for that, the lingering notion that the music industry has controlled the artist, and not the other way around, makes me cry inside a little bit.

But I can always wave my pink fairy wand to cheer myself up. 

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