Thursday, March 6, 2008

Avril Lavigne review: Best Damn Show? Not even close

Mike Devlin
Times Colonist

Avril Lavigne opened Wednesday night's show with Girlfriend, a big hit from her third album, The Best Damn Thing.
CREDIT: Darren Stone/Times Colonist
Avril Lavigne opened Wednesday night's show with Girlfriend, a big hit from her third album, The Best Damn Thing.

What: Avril Lavigne
When: Wednesday night
Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre
Rating: 2 1/2 (out of five)

VICTORIA - Say a prayer for all the brothers, boyfriends, and fathers in the audience Wednesday night because the Avril Lavigne concert was one for the girls.

Me not being one shouldn't have been a problem. For the most part, I like Lavigne's music and have taken it upon myself to argue the point repeatedly to the non-fans who will listen.

But Wednesday night wasn't an occasion I would go on the record for with unwavering support.

Granted, it was the opening night of her world tour - which includes 15 dates in Canada - but the so-billed Best Damn Tour wasn't even the Somewhat OK Damn Tour; it was just plain disappointing. And with tickets in the range of $60, the 75-minute concert clocked in just shy of one dollar per minute. Methinks some parents are feeling the sting right about now.

Here's a blow-by-blow account.

8:35 p.m. The lights go dark. Collective pulses quicken. For some reason, I can almost read a book it's so bright. Must be the copious amount of glo-sticks being waved. Note to self: Get into the glo-stick biz pronto.

8:37 p.m. Lavigne dives into Girlfriend, the big hit from her third album, Best Damn Thing. There are six dancers on stage waving flags, when out comes Avril. I'm blinded by her glitter wear. The tune is a little weak, but that's the case with the first song of most concerts.

8:41 p.m. During the song I Can Do Better, the pint-sized Lavigne, 23, utters her first four-letter word of the night. We expect more to be forthcoming. Avril and her dancers are marching continuously - is there a military theme to her music we were unaware of?

8:45 p.m. "You guys are great," Lavigne says. "I love you." Complicated arrives soon after the lovefest, and she sings the first verse sitting down. Which is fine, because she gets a major lift from the crowd of mostly pre-teen girls. Her voice isn't yet in top form, but you can't fault her energy.

8:49 p.m. My Happy Ending is one of her best songs, and Lavigne delivers here, strapped to a pink guitar (which matches the streaks in her hair) that is almost as big as her. She appears more comfortable now, and the song is all the better for it.

9:02 p.m. An oddly timed musical interlude is meant to satiate fans while Avril undergoes a costume change and her crew resets the stage. For some reason her bandmates (who aren't mind-blowing) break out a Linkin Park cover, which prompts six breakdancers to bust a move. Huh?

9:04 p.m. Once a newly attired Lavigne returns, we quickly forget the Linkin Park and what felt like the longest two minutes ever. Production-wise, this is Lavigne's biggest tour to date, and her crew scurries about all show long. Sadly, something goes wrong with her pink piano, which was to begin her four-song acoustic set. A technical glitch scuttles that.

9:09 p.m. A bandmate chimes in on electric piano during When You're Gone, as her piano gets whisked aside. It throws Lavigne for a loop, from which she has trouble recovering.

9:14 p.m. Backed by a video that features her in full Pussycat Doll regalia, Lavigne gets really into it for Hot, a song written for her husband, Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 fame. He's in the house tonight, having flown here direct from England, but he's nowhere to be seen. Still, it's one of her better performances on this night.

9:19 p.m. Time for another costume change. Lavigne heads off, and we are treated to a new song, her pre-recorded cover of Joan Jett's Bad Reputation. Strangely, it is unannounced and set to clips from her old videos. The song is kicking, but people seem confused because they've never heard it before.

9:26 p.m. "Hey, what's this?" she asks. It's a drum kit - a pink one - and we're guessing she's going to play it. Lavigne does so, not terribly well, while singing Runaway. "I think you all should know this, so if you do, sing along," she says, shortly before delivering Mickey, an '80s pop hit from Toni Basil. Not surprisingly, no one in the crowd is old enough to know it.

9:29 p.m. The title track to The Best Damn Thing is beset by a cheerleader routine from her dancers, who awkwardly spell A-V-R-I-L in large letters. We've got one word for that: T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E.

9:38 p.m. The latter part of the set is redeemed somewhat by He Wasn't, one of her better pop-rock tunes. She's playing a silver sparkle guitar now, and causes oohs and ahhs when she disappears into the floor to close the set.

9:43 p.m. It's encore time, and everyone knows her first hit, Sk8er Boi, is on deck. But instead, she starts rapping (!) on a remix of Girlfriend, which she already played earlier. She's a good sport, but it looks like even Lavigne knows it was half-hearted.

9:50 p.m. Sk8er Boi finishes the set, and within 30 seconds the house lights are up. Is it me, or does a rate of two-minutes per song feel somewhat rushed? Call me crazy. Everyone leaves happy, except for yours truly.

Concert set list:

1. Girlfriend
2. I Can Do Better
3. Complicated
4. My Happy Ending
5. I'm With You
6. I Always Get What I Want
7. When You're Gone
8. Innocence
9. Give it Up
10. Hot
11. Losing My Grip
12. Bad Reputation (video)
13. Everything Back But You
14. Runaway
15. Mickey
16. The Best Damn Thing
17. I Don't Have to Try
18. He Wasn't
19. Boyfriend (remix)
20. Sk8er Boi

No comments: