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.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence