Avril Lavigne doesn't exactly act her age in Vancouver

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      At Rogers Arena on Monday, October 3

      Unlike many teen stars who enter the pop world as babies and develop everything from drug habits to womanly curves under the microscope of the public, Avril Lavigne doesn’t appear to have changed a bit in nearly 10 years. Sure, the multiplatinum-selling recording artist has toured the world countless times, released four incredibly successful studio albums, developed her own fragrance and clothing line, and married and recently divorced fellow Canadian pop-punk frontman, Deryck Whibley, but something about Lavigne’s manufactured persona stunts her growth.

      Decked out in a slightly mature version of the signature tomboy look that dubbed her the Anti-Britney in 2003, the singer walked onto the stage at Rogers Arena nearly 20 minutes after her scheduled start time, sporting combat boots, black pleather leggings, and an over-size tank top that hung loosely over her miniature frame. The sparse crowd, which was a mix largely teenage girls dressed exactly like Lavigne and their parental chaperones, shrieked with the excitement of a jam-packed arena.

      The 27-year-old and her backing band (made up of what appeared to be middle-aged, L.A. session musicians) kick-started the show with the intro ballad “Black Star” off her latest album Goodbye Lullaby before blasting into the undeniably catchy single, “What the Hell”.

      Lavigne bounced around the stage like a bratty child jumping on the bed, peppering her valley girl stage banter with the F-word, even throwing a one-handed cartwheel into the mix. It was hard to tell if she was a party animal who had just snorted a pile of cocaine or if she was just an immature woman trying her best to be peppy. Either way, her fans didn’t seem to notice the difference, as they were too busy singing along and waving their glow sticks.

      Compared to fellow hockey rink headliners like Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera, and Gwen Stefani, Lavigne had a decidedly low-rent stage setup. There was no dramatic backdrop. No crazy light show. No dancers. No props. All you got was a disposable backing band, some velvet curtains and the tiny starlet. But although her voice started off slightly dry and raspy, it only strengthened as she powered out hits like “He Wasn’t”, “Don’t Tell Me”, “Girlfriend” and “When You’re Gone”.

      Lavigne may not be the most engaging performer in the current fleet of pop princesses, but she does know how to satisfy her audience. Still, one would expect she’d be the master of preteen rebellion after a decade of flipping the bird at the world and sticking out her tongue for the cameras.

      It’s this fraudulent effort at being badass that makes Lavigne impossibly annoying to anyone over 13, but irresistible to children. All of her half-baked attempts at legitimacy on this night—the opera-style stage curtains, the grand piano she sat on to sing a few mature ballads, the long-winded, gothic-flavoured musical interludes—were transparent to anyone over the legal drinking age.

      As the set came to a close with “Smile” and “I’m With You”, it felt like watching the last half of Boogie Night: even though a few hard-core hangers-on are still toughing it out, this party is definitely over. And here’s the catch: it’s been over for a while. Every adult knows this, but Lavigne’s party isn’t for the adults or the critics, it’s for the excited teens who look to songs like “Tomorrow” and “Sk8er Boi” to be anthems for their pubescent confusion. Napanee, Ontario’s most famous Home Hardware shopper may not act her age, but she effectively panders to her audience, and that’s all that matters, because they are the ones extending her seemingly everlasting sweet sixteen.

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      22 Comments

      Jason

      Oct 4, 2011 at 9:16am

      Ugh! Does the term journalistic objectivity mean anything to you? What a horrible, pointless and petulant "review." Why cover the gig when the only purpose of doing so is to act like a clever (read: elitist) music writer, and a not very good one at that. Well, whatever. You write for the Straight. Says a lot about the future of your career. Pick a bigger target next time.

      sandi

      Oct 4, 2011 at 9:25am

      Fantastic review.

      an adult

      Oct 4, 2011 at 9:39am

      It's like you captured my thoughts in this write-up. April Lavigne is manufactured plastic.

      Candyce

      Oct 4, 2011 at 9:50am

      I'd rather read this review than go to her concert. Great article.

      Boober

      Oct 4, 2011 at 11:20am

      Avril is a pretty tame version of teenage rebellion and not even a fraction of a fuck-up as her counterparts in the genre. You are right, her music is not intended for an adult audience so why review it from that perspective?

      LTD.Edition

      Oct 4, 2011 at 11:33am

      Jason, this isn't a journalistic news piece, it's a review. Not all reviews are favourable. Though, as you may have noticed, she does get credit for doing her job well and knowing her market. Like most chart toppers she has a specific market that she goes after, writes, performs, and dresses for. That's how the big make it big, they play it up for those who are willing to buy what they offer, the ones that are truely themselves tend not to appeal in the same way because they don't commit to that type of narrow focus. Anyway, the reviewer acknowledges her ability to do what she does best and do it well. He also acknowledges that it's mainly for show and not very authentic and if it is then not reflective of someone who has grown and developed over time in the way most people would after 8 years.

      Or do you prefer your reviews to be neutral and not actually offer well.. a review? Or maybe you're used to the main-stream newsprint reviews which are mainly paid for and/or promoted by the product / thing being reviewed. (They even give major media talking points they need to use if they are to get access to the events, I work in media, it's how the game is played).

      jenny

      Oct 4, 2011 at 11:56am

      Avril Lavigne, stick a fork in yourself. You're done.

      Raven

      Oct 4, 2011 at 12:01pm

      LTD. Edition: It's not a review. It's a diatribe. By a patronizing snob. The point of it is not to tell us anything about Lavigne, but to tell us how cool, clever, and sophisticated the "reviewer" thinks they are.

      bill patko

      Oct 4, 2011 at 12:46pm

      how can a sparse crowd be a jam packed arena? boo.

      Tom Habb

      Oct 4, 2011 at 2:29pm

      very good review