“Are those baby bottles?” was the first thought that popped into the mind and out of mouths of the audience when the stage lights went on at Lily Allen’s performance at the Hollywood Palladium—the last U.S. date of her Sheezus headlining tour. There were, in fact, a large number of huge, lit-up baby bottles decorating Allen’s stage, which presumably referenced the pop firecracker’s absence the last five years while she raised two children. Allen, donned in a loose sequined top, looked like she borrowed her garments from a deranged great aunt while several skin-tight-appareled dancers and a backing band hidden behind hoodies gave some street cred.
Allen is an almost pop star stateside. She plays in the Beyonce and Katy Perry sandbox, but then flings sand in everyone eyes and climbs out, refusing to be properly styled, properly choreographed or properly superstar-ed. The effect was real as she kicked off the night with the title track from Sheezus, a bold number that demanded her crown back. She continued with the bubbly “Not Fair” from 2009’s It’s Not You, It’s Me and then immediately proceeded to rip Auntie’s top off, revealing a red bra and ripped torso that, like Gwen Stefani, showed no signs of childbearing for the charming trac “LDN” from 2006’s Alright, Still. A long train of songs from Sheezus started wth “As Long As I Got You,” spiced with the classic Mardi Gras chant “Iko Iko” that made it sound like it was a direct hit of other songs. The evening continued with the older songs creating noticeable spikes in the crowd’s enthusiasm, such as “Everyone’s At It” and “Smile,” which came out as clear winners.
After a bit of a struggle with knotted items, further items of clothing were shed leaving Allen in hot pink bootie shorts—“her reveal outfit,” as she called it. After a short stint in basically her underwear, Allen had her band play a medley while she went backstage to change once more (she would make a terrible stripper), and then returned in a swingy fringed dress. She ended with “Fuck You,” her jab at politicians, and a sing-along number if there ever was one. Throughout the night, her banter sounded like private jokes topped off with annoying giggles that served as indicators to the audience that the singer had made a funny.
Allen’s encore finally hit the roof-raising energy the entire night should have had with a raunchy cover of Ty Dolla $ign’s crude “Or Nah” that set the stage for her own “Hard Out Here,” which continues with the lyrics “for a bitch.” Allen’s dancers— latex catsuits covering their bodies and dog masks covering their faces—turned the stage into a dog pound with the singer as the leader of the pack. It’s a place she belongs with all that bark and bite.