Following the June 8 release of her electropop record No Shame, English singer-songwriter Lily Allen brought a spirited energy to Corona Theatre on Oct. 27. A few hundred concert-goers, damp and cold from the first snow of the fall, convened near the stage in anticipation of Allen’s performance.
Accompanied by her two-man band, Allen embodied a neon dream, decked from head to toe in a glitzy ensemble. Citing an ongoing cold, she ingested her medicine and began the show, emphasizing her sickly-sweet demeanor as a pop-star. She opened with the first track off her new record, “Come On Then,” in which she describes the obsessive press coverage of the breakdown of her marriage, and how humiliating it was to be the subject of public scrutiny. Filling the room with vigour, she continued on with standouts from No Shame, such as “What You Waiting For?” and “Everything to Feel Something,” which explores Allen’s past struggles with substance abuse. She also performed hits from earlier albums: “Smile” and “Knock ‘Em Out” from her first record Alright, Still “Not Fair,” and “Who’d Have Known,” from her second album It’s Not Me, It’s You, demonstrating both her growth as an artist and the timeless appeal of her music.
Allen performed an unreleased single titled “Party Line,” recalling life on tour and adventures with her friends and bandmates. Exhilarated from her performance, the crowd received the song warmly in great anticipation of its upcoming release.
The room’s energy shifted from lively to pensive when Allen performed her hit “The Fear,” which is speculated to be about celebrity culture and fame; however, Allen insists that the song is a broader commentary on social media’s influence on day-to-day life. Allen used “The Fear” to reflect on the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, which had occurred earlier that day. Allen recounted that when she read about it on her phone, she “just kept scrolling,” citing an overwhelming sense of dread. She reminded her audience to always stay informed and aware in the face of trivial distractions.
While Allen’s more upbeat songs were energetic enough to goad fans of all ages into a frenzy, she still had a commanding ability to quiet the room. Allen performed her slower and more intimate songs, “Apples,” “Family Man,” and “Three” from No Shame with a beauty and honesty that effectively stunned the crowd into silence. These songs delve into the more private parts of her life—a contemplation on her romantic relationships, parents, and children.
“Apples” compares Allen’s marital failures to the demise of her parents’ relationship by ruminating on the decisions that led to her divorce.
“Four years and you’ve given me my beautiful babies, but it was all too much for me,” Allen sang. “Now I’m exactly where I didn’t want to be, I’m just like my mummy and my daddy, I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
A silence fell over the venue when Allen began “Three,” a song written from the perspective of one of her young daughters, expressing her sadness and disappointment about Allen always being away on tour.
To wrap up an emotional rollercoaster of a performance, Allen performed “Trigger Bang,” which energized the crowd enough to finish with “Fuck You,” her iconic hit from It’s Not Me, It’s You.
“I originally wrote this song after observing George W. Bush’s presidency from across the ocean, but little did I know there would be something much worse coming. Donald J. Trump, this one’s for you!” Allen quipped.
Allen’s willingness to accept her flaws and turn them into engaging music is part of what makes her such a dynamic artist. No Shame is, fundamentally, a record built on Allen’s vulnerability. The singer-songwriter’s ability to convey emotions live allowed the crowd to experience emotional highs and lows alongside her and dance through them all the same.