Manchester Academy 1
They have always said that they key to success in pop music is ambition, well that and connections.
Lily Allen, daughter of comedian Keith, has both. This gig only just scraped over the sold out line very recently and Lily has now announced a new date in Manchester, at the watermark venue of the sizeable Apollo Theatre (10/03/2007). As the numerous members of the backing band shuffles onto the stage unceremoniously and just hang around waiting for the leading lady, it has the feel of a rehearsal.
By dousing her voice with aspects of Missy Elliot early on skirting R N B territory, Allen displays her buoyancy and prances around the stage with mild provocation. A humorous and streetwise strut through 50 Cent's `Window Shopper', temporarily masks the fact that original material is thin on the ground and padding is going to be a theme tonight.
Still, the under 8s at the back seem to appreciate the catchy grooves and brass section, as probably the widest demographic to descend upon the Academy is on show tonight.
The bolshiest number from debut album `Allright, Still' or `Knock `Em Out', gets the funk on in the crowd reaching a neat groove. The tender side to the Bet Lynch of the pop world, who takes time out from her 60 minute set for a fag, is displayed through non-album, soft ballad `Littlest Thing'. An admission is now made that the album is full of 3 Â½ minute pop songs, so the set needs to be stretched out and it is done with trite, but well meaning covers of Keane's `Everybody's Changing' and The Kooks `NaÃ¯ve'. Album highlights, the melodiously feisty `Smile' and the rhythmic `Alfie', provide a platform for Lily to build upon ahead of her ambitious Apollo gig. You sense that the talent is there, but a gig of this size was probably a little too soon.