Lily Allen, Somerset House, London

4.00

We're smiling in the rain with Lily

Lily Allen's gig at Somerset House was a distinctly British affair, with a sodden crowd dancing in the rain to her hit "LDN", the lyrics of which speak of the capital in sunnier climes. There were ponchos, umbrellas and rainhoods galore but the abysmal weather did little to dampen the spirits.

Allen was energetic, warm and enthusiastic, if a little self-depreciating with her insistent apologies for smoking. Brits like popstars with vices though and since she stopped binge drinking and slimmed down to pin-up popstrel proportions, it's good to know Lil's still as down to earth as she ever was. She rattled through an extensive and accessible set, her shoop-shoop choruses and hooks giving even the part-time fans ample opportunity to join in, and bounded around the stage with a confidence and exuberance that was wonderful to watch.

Too often decried as another saccharine and insubstantial female vocalist, Lily Allen is the exception rather than the rule, with a pitch-perfect voice that is happy at both girlishly high octaves and at the low drawl of her mockney sing-speak, not to mention intelligent, witty and aphoristic lyrics, which remain easily decipherable even during a live show. The package makes for a happy audience, waiting to join in with their favourite riffs and the lines that make them laugh. Her fans also seem to take pleasure in the dichotomy between that sweet little voice and some of filth it spouts, as on "Fuck You", a sing-song anti-homophobic totem against George W Bush that the crowd reacted to as if it were "Kum Ba Yah".

Allen included much from her second album It's Not Me, It's You, which was released earlier this year. It's an understandable decision, given it's over three years since her debut, but a slightly disappointing one, because it was that first record that people so loved her for, and its content was sharper, more inventive and less trite. Where her recent songs are full of social observations and some political ones, 2006's Alright, Still is an odyssey of London nightlife and youth culture, which is funnier and somehow less pretentious. Still, her audience were only to happy to sing along to what they knew, and Allen was conscientious in covering all of the numbers that the average pop-picker might recognise – her Mark Ronson-produced cover of the Kaiser Chiefs' "Oh My God", for instance, and her first hit "Smile", which the audience sang right back to her. Allen was in her element, flitting with ease between stately acoustic-jazz standards and frenetic, tongue-twisting tracks, whipping up an electronic storm with her reverb box and synths.

But there was a diffidence in her set towards its close. After a bassline-inspired remix of "The Fear", she tinkered with drum-and-bass effects, before segueing into a cover of Britney Spears' "Womanizer". This sort of novelty extra is fine for crowds at festivals who may not be familiar with an artist's back catalogue, but when you're playing to a crowd of your own fans, you don't need things like this; besides which, Allen has more than enough songs in her repertoire to keep an audience happy, most of which of which are better and more musically complex than any of Britney's.

Allen dedicated her last number, recent hit "It's Not Fair" (which tells the tale of a thoughtful boyfriend who is terrible in the sack), to the ladies in the crowd and, to their glee, reprised the chorus several times over. The arrangement was ingenious, spanning country and western to Nineties euphoric house, and showing that, not only does Lily Allen know her musical bread and butter, she is able to transcend genre, audience and generations. That, and the timeless vagaries of the female orgasm.

Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week