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Postcard From Eden 4 - Lily Allen

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Fraser McAlpine | 15:28 UK time, Thursday, 19 July 2007

Lily Allen

As Jamie Cullum once pointed out - when he was covering an old jazz song in an old jazz style - what a difference a day makes. After the confusion and pain and bewilderment of Amy Winehouse's startling perfomance the night before (full report here...), last night's barnstorming charm-fest by Lily Allen at the Eden Project could not have been more different.

And, as is often the way with things which are very very different, the way you can tell that they are very very different is by examining the ways in which they are the same.

No, really!

Setting the scene a bit...for some reason Amy and Lily's Eden concerts were back to back. Amy's on Tuesday, Lily's on Wednesday. It's almost as if there was some kind of competition or fight between the two best Mark Ronson-affiliated fiesty ladies of modern retropop, to see which one could rock a biome the best.

And coming after Lily's very public 'breakdown', where, among other things, she was irked at being described as "fat, ugly and s***er than Winehouse" (more info here...), it would be very tempting (and not a little tabloidy) to consider this, well, The Grudge-Match Of The Year, or something.

LilyNow to be fair, if it WAS a fight it wasn't exactly a fair one. Mark Ronson himself made a clear attempt to boost Lily's appearance with a set of his trademark 'indie songs made into funky songs', and all Amy W had in her corner was a lively appearance from Leon Jean-Marie. And if that name just makes you go 'who?', then you're entirely getting my point.

The other main fight-hobbling factor for poor Amy was, well, Poor Amy. But that didn't stop Lily from pulling out all the stops and making damn sure Cornwall's pop massive were entirely aware of who is brilliant at doing concerts at Eden and who is not.

Now, before I go any further...is anyone currently developing a massive froth on because I'm comparing Amy with Lily, like I have clearly decided that all women singers are exactly the same, and can therefore only be compared to each other? OK, wind down the hot-foam tap a second. The reason the two concerts are comparable has more to do with their musical content and the approach each of these artists has to the songs they write than the fact that they both sit down to pee.

You want examples? OK...

Amy did brilliant cover versions of two songs which were recorded by the Specials. 'Hey Little Rich Girl' and 'You're Wondering Now' (OK, that one was an old ska hit, but the Specials did it too...).

Lily AllenLily did brilliant cover versions of two songs which were recorded by the Specials TOO. She did 'Blank Expression' and 'Gangsters'. Only in Lily's case, the covers weren't the best thing she did all night. They were fantastic alright, but so was 'LDN', 'Everything's Just Wonderful' and especially 'Nan You're A Window Shopper', which should really be the National Anthem or something.

Amy's band were amazing, and covered all forms of early American soul music from Motown to jazz and back again.

Lily's band were amazing and covered all forms of early Jamaican soul music from ska to dub and back again.

Amy's lyrics come from a deep and vulnerable place, are unflnchingly honest, and tell you an awful lot about her as a person.

Lily's lyrics come from a deep and vulnerable place, are unflinchingly honest (and funny), and tell you an awful lot about her as a person.

Live, Amy has a beautiful voice which is surprisingly powerful, given her tiny frame.

Live, Lily has a beautiful voice which is also surprisingly powerful, given its whisper-soft silkiness on record.

See? Lots of commonality there, and I didn't even mention pretty dresses.

Where the two performers differ hugely is just how comfortable they appeared to be while on-stage. Amy seemed to hate every second, while Lily seemed far more comfortable talking to the crowd, larking about, making jokes about willy-size, telling bullies off, and telling George W. Bush off (yeah, cos he's probably got a season ticket for a supposedly eco-aware tourist attraction like Eden, wouldn't you think?).

Not that this inherently makes Lily good and Amy bad, it's just a question of how they approach what they do. With Amy it seems singing about her worst characteristics is the only thing she can do well. With Lily it's all about her victory over the bad things in her past. One is exposing her darkest secrets, the other is parading her brilliant new feelings-armour and laughing.

But, it has to be said, watching someone impale themselves on a cross of their own making may be great art, but jigging about like a rubber-stringed puppet and singing "sun is in the sky, oh why oh why, would I wanna be anywhere else?" is a hell of a lot more FUN.

Full gallery of Lily Eden pix at the BBC Cornwall website...

More ChartBlog reports from Eden:
Amy Winehouse...
Rufus Wainwright...
James Morrison...


  1. At 09:08 PM on 28 Jul 2007, PBG wrote:

    I have a comment. Lily is great. She rocks. I love her voice. I love the new song with Mark Ronson. Amy Winehouse would probably be even greater if she laid off the drink. Drink doesn't do you good, Amy, just bad. I know cos of my dad. Anyway. Lily rocks. Full stop. I even like her attitude (sometimes) cos she acts lke she couldn't care less about offending Cheryl Tweedy and Wayne Rooneys g/f colleen or w/e. I don't actually think she does. But w/e. Bye Fraymond! :) still remember that?

  2. At 02:45 PM on 03 Aug 2007, caitlin wrote:

    Lily was FANTASIC! she was so worth the money, even my dad who took us was expecting to go and hate it but he thought was absolutly brillant, she,s really funny as well making jokes about guys and cheryl tweedy she was gr8, the best comment she made was defo the one bout George Bush HILARIOUS!!!! and totally true.


  3. At 12:28 PM on 10 Aug 2007, beth wrote:

    hey lily,
    um i just wanted to say:..
    be strong, cause i think you’ve maybe heard by now about the rumours:
    kate nash being better than you, etc etc.
    well just to say, i dont think that
    i think your both the same.
    and yes i do admitt her songs sound the same as yours, slightly
    but you do have different personalities
    and people do still love you
    dont forget that
    not EVERYONE loves kate nash
    and not EVERYONE as gone off you
    and i also, remember.. u were here first.
    so be strong, like i said
    cause i really dont want to see your face on the front cover of heat saying you’ve done somthing stupid because of all the kate nash crap and because of all the rumors yeah
    (im not saying you will though, lol)
    i really wanna belive in you lily
    cause i do feel sorry for you right now.

    well lots of love,
    wishing you all the best,
    take care..
    beth x

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