Lily Allen is very aware that her new album, "Sheezus," debuted at No. 1 in the U.K. this week, but did not debut at No. 1 in the States.
"Thank you to all those 17 people that downloaded my album," Allen cracked to the crowd at New York's Highline Ballroom on Thursday night (May 15). The British singer mentioned multiple times during the performance that "Sheezus," her third album and first studio set in five years, had debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 chart, and although her sales estimation was a bit off (17,000 people, not 17, scooped up the album in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan), Allen was well aware that she was playing her first U.S. show in five years without a current U.S. radio hit. No matter: Allen's New York return was impressively produced and phenomenally candid, with the singer shouting-out her two young children in one moment and seething "Fuck you male misogynistic bloggers, man -- seriously" the next.
Allen's defense of her uneven "Sheezus" album wasn't sour grapes as much as an artist fiercely believing in the material that she was presenting, and on Thursday night, that commitment demanded the small audience's respect. It helped that the new songs sounded pretty spectacular at the club show: "Hard Out Here" was presented as a combustible dance track, "As Long As I Got You" served as a charming account of Allen's marriage, and album highlight "Close Your Eyes" suavely bounced across the club midway through the set. The acoustics at the packed, 700-capacity venue allowed every detail of "22," "Smile" and "The Fear" to pop, and clever graphics accompanied each of Allen's songs, from a parade of dancing middle fingers for "Fuck You" to baby bottles full of prescription pills for "Everyone's At It."
Of course, the main attraction at a Lily Allen show remains Allen's personality, which has thankfully not subsided now that the singer is a wife, a mother and five years older since her last album. Allen called Miley Cyrus a "fearless bitch" and lovingly imitated Cyrus' mother, Tish, based on her latest Instagram video. She signed albums, put her publicist on blast for texting during the show, and demonstrated that she was "sweating from my tits" after "Close Your Eyes" had ended.
When four booty-shaking dancers accompanied Allen for "Hard Out Here" and "Air Balloon," Allen did her best to match their salacious moves, then joked to those wondering she's been the past five years, "I've been practicing my dance moves!" Allen still stuffs her show with these asides, but they never become grating. The veteran singer's cheeky personality is still wonderfully overflowing, and on Thursday night, her wit and music entranced Sheezus' lucky room of U.S. disciples.
Here is Lily Allen's set list from her Highline Ballroom performance:
Hard Out Here
Everyone's at It
As Long as I've Got You
Who'd Have Known
I Could Say
Close Your Eyes
Life for Me
|Pop Shop Podcast: Michael Jackson's "Xscape," Lily Allen's "Sheezus"|
In this week's episode, we break down Lily Allen's album debut and preview the Billboard Music Awards. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes HERE.