Recently boasting about how she always sings live, Avril Lavigne had to make good on her claims and put Ashlee Simpson, in her place. After all, some of Lavigne’s past performances have been less than on-key.
Quite expertly, Napanee’s pint-sized hero delivered the vocal goods, save for her “Complicated” encore in which she still struggled with the verses’ low notes. But otherwise, the nearly packed house at the Hanger had someone worth screaming for (ear-deafeningly, of course).
Lavigne’s mall-punk compadres from Ajax, Not By Choice, riled up the tykes – a group of mostly parental accompanied 10 to 17 year old girls with their Ataris-style pop-punk.
It was Lavigne, however, that the mesh-backed female army was here to see and their high-pitched yelps erupted when her silhouette appeared, playing the opening chords of Under My Skin’s “He Wasn’t” behind a black curtain.
Accompanied by three guitar players and a drummer, the tie-less Lavigne, sported a red tank top and black pants and was all smiles for her bass-heavy set. Two screens provided the close-ups of that shy, vampire-toothed grin that appeared during the roaring support after every song.
Singles like “My Happy Ending” and the power ballad “I’m With You” drew sing-alongs, but it was the harder-edged hair-messers like “Take Me Away” and “Losing Grip” that really showed Lavigne’s grrl badge, demonstrating the once-poisonous sting of Alanis.
Having already proved her stellar vocal chops and poise, Lavigne showed the crowd that she’s a jack of all trades, sitting at a keyboard for Skin’s rockers “Together” and “Forgotten.” Her elementary piano skills were apparent during her solo, night-closing performance of “Slipping Away” and her sluggish drumming during the surprise “Song 2” (featuring Not By Choice’s Mike Bilcox on vocals) was fun. She does deserve some props for daring to play these instruments in front of thousands of people.
An acoustic version of “Tomorrow,” which Lavigne tackled alone, was most endearing, making us realize that despite all this young adult angst, Lavigne’s hopeful songs of girl empowerment are fairly nutritious brain food for the Y-generation. She encouraged the glo-stick waving crowd, “Stand up for yourself and put up a fight!” during “Freak Out” and dedicated her abstinence hit “Don’t Tell Me,” to “all the ladies in the house,” even though some of these “ladies” were 8. At least we can all feel safe in knowing that our little siblings have a famous role model other than the sex-obsessed, Page Six-hogging pop starlets.
Finally, with a sweet “Thank you for coming out and making my dreams come true,” Lavigne bowed to all sides of her delighted audience, making her a genuinely gracious pint-sized hero.