Neil Meads

12:56 22nd May 2006

Ok lets spin the Lily Allen wheel of hyperbole "The Sound Of The Summer, The Postergirl for the Myspace Generation", The new Arctic Monkeys, and our personal favourite, the charming Mike Skinner with tits (although having seen Mike take his top off at  Brixton Academy recently that one might be taken already). On a gloomy Thursday evening, 150 people form a snaking queue down Notting Hill highstreet in an attempt to squeeze into a venue that's already packed to the rafters.

For a 21 year old playing only her third gig, and with one limited edition single to her name the weight of such expectation must be unbelievable, especially since the backlash has already started. The irony free Guardian accused her of being a middle class mockney with no business talking about life on street, surely similar to being called a washed-up junkie by Pete Doherty. It also likened her to GayDad which in a boxing match would see points deducted for low blows!

Lily can then be excused for looking slightly nervous when finally taking to the stage at 10.15. The sweltering hot crowd, lubricated with Trilly Lilly cocktails from the bar are just ecstatic to see her. First up is LDN, sounding like Lord Kitcheners paean to the capital London Is The Place For Me updated for 2006 complete with pimps and crack whores. It's a pop gem deserving of a No.1 if only for rhyming 'tesco' with 'al-fresco', but unfortunately the sound man is having a nightmare, and within moments everything grinds to a halt leaving an embarrassed Lily quipping: "Well this is going well!"

The gremlins in the soundboard persist throughout, but in a short six song set Lily copes admirably charming the crowd with her lyrics, infectious smile, and the voice of Janet Kay reborn in a chain smoking white chick.  Nan, Youre a Window Shopper  has everyone grinning from ear to ear, expect to hear "you've got a leak in your colostomy bag its got a hole in hole in" blaring out of car windows all summer. Next single Smile gets a live outing, along with the Professor Longhair sampling Knock Em Out, and Little Things. Every song is instantly recognised by a delirious crowd, and when the dodgy sound robs us of the vocals they gamely take over bellowing word for word. Some kind soul even offers Lily a well earned cigarette which she gladly puffs away on while delivering another pitch perfect performance of Shame For You.

"Oh my gosh you must be joking me if you think that you'll be poking me"

All in all a qualified triumph, with every song sounding good enough to be a single but Lily commentating later was apologetic:  "that was a shit gig ...........sorry to anyone who came I had to fire my soundguy, it was rubbish. I sang my smoke infested little lungs out I'm so so sorry, I really am. I'm so embarrassed!" If that was a shit gig, imagine how good she'll be with a soundman who has at least seen a mixing desk before. Look out for the album in July, featuring contributions from Mark Ronson, Greg Kurstin and Manchester's Futurecut and Keith. Should be easy to spot it'll be the one that says No.1 above it.

Photos by: Neil Meads