"Fuck you. Fuck you very, very much," screamed the approving crowd packed into San Diego's House of Blues Wednesday night to see Lily Allen kick off her first American tour in nearly two years. (See 10 photos from the show here.)
As Allen told the fans, the tune "Fuck You" off her new album, It's Not Me, It's You, is political in nature: "This song was written about Bush while he was in office, but I still think it's good." With middle fingers extended in the air alongside Allen's, fans chanted along to the Anti-Bush lyrics: "So you say that it's not okay to be gay / Well, I just think that you're evil."
But that's about as crass as it gets for Allen these days. Throughout a 19-song set that consisted mostly of cuts from It's Not Me, there was a sense that we were all witnessing a new, and in some ways improved, Allen. The shots of booze that she used to knock back with abandon were now replaced with a rather boring mug of water, and she was even (shut your mouth!) humble, thanking the crowd profusely in between songs.
If there was an advantage to the fitter, happier, more productive Allen, it had to be her voice. While not an instrument on par with some of her Brit contemporaries, it hit the high notes on her new cuts flawlessly, especially on the stand-by-your-man odes "He Wasn't There" and "Back to the Start." It even gave new life to the rough talk-sing verses of her 2006 debut.
She played covers, too, punching up the Kaiser Chiefs' "Oh My God" and grooving to a version of Dizzee Rascal's "Dance Wiv Me," which was funkified by the guitar, bass, drum, and keyboard behind her. She even danced around during the countrified "Not Fair," in what can only be described as an English girl's take on a hoedown.
Then she showed some of the old Lily with the roughed-up encore of her 2006 hit "Smile," which is about a cheating lover, and a cover of Britney Spears' "Womanizer," complete with feigned drunken flailing, booty shaking, and mic stroking.
"Excuse me, and my very short dress," she demurred before leaving the stage. "Thank you so much!"
Your move, Amy Winehouse.
"Everyone's at It"
"I Could Say"
"Never Gonna Happen"
"Oh My God" (Kaiser Chiefs cover)
"Everything's Just Wonderful"
"Who'd Have Known"
"Dance Wiv Me" (Dizzee Rascal cover)
"Back to the Start"
"He Wasn't There"
"Womanizer" (Britney Spears cover)