Avril Lavigne : Birmingham Academy

How much more authentic do you want it?

Down the front, punkas are bouncing about to proper choruses while pop kids are wearing studded wristbands. Avril Lavigne is currently restoring the balance of the universe.

The happy news is that she's also doing it with bucketloads of tartrazine-powered vim - not even Karen O tries this hard. There's precisely zero fucking around: at the off she dives headlong into 'Sk8er Boi', realising that when you've updated West Side Story with a tune this good, your public won't be prepared to wait for it. Here's a woman who could sell out arenas in a second playing to a cabal of pop-literate indie kids, grabbing sk8er girls up onstage to sing the verses to 'Complicated' and playing real guitar. This is as grubbily real as ten-million sellers are ever allowed to be, and, crucially, it's all down to Avril. "Isn't it funny," she squeals, genuinely bemused, "when somebody goes to touch me and security are like, 'no, don't touch her! Y'know, I'm human! You're human!" And while 'I'm With You' falls hideously flat, if a teenage supervixen this rich could do windswept melancholy with any conviction, then there'd be a problem. Live, Avril and her band sound like any other gang of 18-year-old spitfires learning their craft; a high-octane, low-bullshit rock'n'roll group with not quite enough great songs yet to be properly brilliant, which is why Avril seamlessly co-opts Green Day's 'Basket Case'. How much more authentic do you want it?

Dan Martin

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