Lily Allen Vogue Theatre, Vancouver BC, November 9
Published Nov 10, 2018The North American leg of Lily Allen's No Shame tour concluded last night in Vancouver, a sold out Vogue Theatre gratefully welcoming the British singer-songwriter's return. Allen's latest record has been hailed for its vulnerability and subtle production — last night, she crafted a set that wove her older material through it to create a show that the audience clearly appreciated.
She was battling an illness caught on the road — at one point taking a break during her set to rapidly spray her throat as her bandmates introduced themselves — but was in good spirits, clearly flattered by the turnout. Fans had travelled from as far as Australia to attend the show, and a Brazilian flag was handed to Allen at one point, which she naturally took as an opportunity to comment on the rise of fascism in that country, as well as England and America. Allen's strengths lie in exploring political and social issues through personal relationships, as well as crafting songs that are deeply singular in their recollection of her own experiences.
Accompanied by two multi-instrumentalists who handled production, including live bass, keys, triggering drums and a variety of other samples, Allen opened with "Come On Then," a mix of confrontational and honest synth pop. She gained confidence throughout the set, with tracks from Alright, Still, such as "LDN" and "Knock 'Em Out" sounding anthemic and carefree. Allen swung from her teenage years to one of her most recent tracks, "Party Line," which connected with fans — laden with nostalgia and a clear vocal hook.
It was during her most revealing songs from No Shame that Allen reached audience members in a poignant way — fans did double takes at the lyrics to "Three," a piano-led ballad sang from the perspective of Allen's children, and "Family Man," which she explained brought her to tears upon it's first performance earlier in the tour. As clever and hooky as her lyrics can be, for patient listeners, the intimacy of tracks from No Shame resonated. Allen and company kept balance in their set list though, leading a raucous sing-along to the bizarrely country-tinged "Not Fair" and single, "Trigger Bang," the latter blossoming onstage, it's beats and gunshots juxtaposed by Allen's melancholic lyrics.
Dedicating "Fuck You" to Donald Trump, which she explained was written as George W. Bush left office and Barack Obama became president (at which time people had deemed the song unnecessary), Allen and her bandmates made sure to leave Vancouverites riled up, despite the show's focus on the downtempo nature of No Shame. Allen has grown as an artist and in doing so, has created a live show that presents that trajectory with honesty.