For someone who’s already been accused of being overhyped, Lily Allen’s first tour is a rather low-key event. The Plug is the latest stop in a small tour of clubs in preparation for her first ‘official’ gig at London’s Bush Hall later in July. The late start meant that a mix of the curious and the committed fan were waiting in anticipation at just after midnight.
Allen’s My Space assisted rise has been well documented of course, but it’s easy to forget that up until May this year the 21 year old had never even played live. Her television appearances so far seemed to show her as nervous, but there was no evidence of anxiety as she skipped onto The Plug’s stage, looking resplendent in trademark summer dress and Nike trainers, to a massive cheer.
The four piece band manage to recreate the songs exceptionally well, and Allen’s voice sounds as good live as it does on record. It’s the songs that shine through though, bouncy feel-good pop classics with lyrics that seem destined to be quoted for years to come. Opening with her debut single LDN, a bittersweet paean to her home city, the whole of The Plug were dancing and singing along – quite an achievement for a single that was originally a limited edition of 500 copies.
One highlight of the short set was the wonderful Nan You’re A Window Shopper, which won’t be on the forthcoming Alright Still album due to the failure to gain legal clearance for the 50 Cent sample it uses. Ostensibly poking fun at her granny, it has both laugh out lyrics (“You only buy the paper just to cut out the coupons, you’re saving 50p, but what do you want with tampons”) and the most infectious melody you’ll hear for ages, it has to be hoped that Parlophone’s legal team will sort out the clearance issue as it’s got Number One written all over it.
Allen’s certainly becoming more confident with every live appearance – she even dragged one young man up on stage to sing happy birthday to him and give him a birthday kiss (much to his delight) and although between-song banter remained at a minimum, she still effortlessly came across as relaxed, witty and fun.
Tracks from the forthcoming album were aired, with Shame For You and Knock Em Out sounding particularly impressive, while the wistful Little Things was quite beautiful. It was Smile that received the biggest cheer of the night, adding to the already inevitable feeling that this song is about to become a permanent fixture in the charts over the next few months.
After just half an hour or so it was all over, with an encore of Alfie getting the entire Plug jumping up and down in unison. Short but sweet then – a bit like the diminutively talented lady herself.