Avril Lavigne -MEN Arena - 3.10.04
A giant screen with a clenched fist dominates the stage. The name Avril scrawled across the knuckles symbolizing love and hate in equal measures, while "Lavigne" is written in proto-punk type underneath. A silhouette of Avril looms as she crunches the first chord and the curtain drops displaying 3 large crossed that dominate the stage as if to say VOTE AVRIL. It's not too hard to imagine that given the chance America's youth would vote this Canadian teenager over that of Bush or Kerry combined for Avril is the voice of the pent up generation angst.
"Happy Ending", a song bizarre for the fact that the verses are blatantly superior to the chorus, but it works. By the time the third song has started she sings "No one understands....I can't handle this confusion" and sums up everything perfectly about teenage angst. "Anything, But Ordinary" follows "Sk8ter Boy". Some may say they're diluted versions of the riot grrl manifesto, but you only have to look at the audience and see a predominantly female audience taking control of their lives. "I'm With You" is one of those crossover tunes, like Busteds "3Am", that connects with the people that way "our bands" used to engage with us. Now the likes of Travis and Oasis are too out of touch with reality they don't speak to anybody but themselves.
When Lavigne takes to the piano and admits "there was still one thing I wanted to achieve on this tour and it's to play piano live, You can do anything with perseverance" as if she's spent the past 12 months waiting for this moment. Taking Avril away from the guitar is a strange sight and musically there's a transformation from rock chic to a younger Kate Bush. Seriously, the vocal acrobatics are there as well as the yodelling. Still, you can't keep Avril from the guitar for long and following this is a 3 song acoustic interlude, including "Fall To Pieces" and "Nobodys Home", its strips her bare and shows that beneath the glossy radio-rock production Lavigne's a great vocalist. Even when she slips out of tune it seems right.
"Complicated", the penultimate song of the evening, and the hit that kicked it all off, is greeted like a long lost relative. The timing couldn't be more fitting as an arena full of teenagers sing each and ever word as the spotlight highlights adverts for mortgages, car insurance, cigarettes, alcohol and gambling emporiums. These kids have got a lot to learn and unfortunately now what is teenage angst will turn to the dulling reality of 9-5 life within a few short years. It will certainly be interesting to see Avril doing the greatest hits tour in 5 years time looking back on those teenage years as blissful.
Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride www.karenmcbride.com
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