Lily at the Academy
In keeping with the bacchanalian atmosphere around St Patrick's Day, Lily Allen swigs liberally from the neck of a wine bottle one moment, gulps beer the next and, at one point, lifts up her skimpy skirt to treat the mainly female audience to a glimpse of her knickers.
'Cheeky' could be the 23-year-old Londoner's middle name. For the encore, after changing into a body-hugging mini-dress, she delivers an impromptu lap dance -- without a client -- and elsewhere she peppers her language with expletives with the relish of someone discovering the F-word for the first time.
All this could be very annoying if Allen didn't bring a great deal of charm to proceedings. There's an endearingly goofy quality to this most gabby of performers and despite being one of the most successful of the new crop of British singers, she gives the impression of savouring each and every moment in case her popularity runs dry.
The bulk of tonight's set is culled from her latest, second, album, 'It's Not Me, It's You' -- and her fourpiece, all-male band do a competent job of replicating the songs live. They even get the hideous electro-country backdrop of the spiky 'Not Fair' down pat, as Allen sings about the trauma of being in a relationship with a guy who is a let-down in the bedroom: "You never make me scream," she sings. "Oh it's not fair."
She races through several slight songs -- including the irritating 'Chinese' and the playfully inane 'F*** You', before lifting the roof with 'Smile', the single that first brought her attention.
Allen concludes her shortish performance on a high with an impressively faithful cover of Britney's 'Womanizer'. It's a great pop song but only serves to highlight the fact that she doesn't have enough tunes of this stature in her catalogue. Still, there's enough here tonight to appeal to the doubters -- not that there were many of them in attendance.