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Show Review: Lily Allen at the Warfield

It’s almost impossible to believe that the Lily Allen of Saturday night’s Warfield show is the same Lily Allen who graced the Great American Music Hall back in ’07. Almost. Only her sheer, “casual” encore ensemble and recurrent pleas for an indoor cigarette conjured up memories of Allen’s previous incarnation. No, Saturday was all about Lily 2.0 – sexy, confident, and pitch-perfect, the singer held nothing back as fans screamed their adoration throughout the hour-long set.

Playing mostly new songs off her sophomore album, It’s Not Me, It’s You, the 23-year-old Allen reveled in her revamped persona, strutting the stage with the poise of a seasoned performer. Trading in her trademark bangs and doorknocker earrings, Allen opted for a cropped ‘do and sequined hot pants, declaring San Francisco to be her first stiletto-free tour stop.

If anything has remained consistent in Allen’s onstage repertoire, it’s her startlingly on-point vocals. Despite the smokes, and a sip or two from what she claimed to be a watered down adult beverage, Allen hit every note with the same precision heard on her album. Kicking off the show with It’s Not Me’s opening track, “Everyone’s At It,” Allen catapulted through more than 15 songs, plus an encore that included an amped-up version of Britney Spears’ “Womanizer.” Keeping the between-song banter to a minimum, Allen provided insight into tracks, such as “He Wasn’t There,” which was written about her father, actor/musician/comedian, Keith Allen.

Allen’s uninhibited demeanor extends beyond her in-person aura. The singer has taken to her Twitter account to reach out to fans; even enacting pre-show scavenger hunts in each city for followers to find craftily hidden tickets.

Opening Saturday’s show was Seattle band Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head. With an electro energy that pulsated all the way to the venue’s surrounding sidewalk, the band substantiated their claim as this year’s South by Southwest darlings. Anyone curious about their vibe need only check out their MySpace page and sample tracks “Ice age Babeland” and “Sophisticated Side Ponytail” (their talent for designating title is impressive enough).

Photography by Misha Vladimirskiy