LILY ALLEN, Shepherd’s Bush Empire – Evening Standard, 29 April 2014

Lily Allen made a spash with a soaked-through Beyonce[ACUTE] impersonation in a nightclub at the weekend, but that was just an aperitif for the the main event – the returning star’s first full hometown concert in four years. In front of her dad, her husband, mother-in-law and Harry Enfield, she strutted through past and future hits with a cheeky smile, a sewer mouth and heels taller than most secondary school children.

Among 19 songs there was no room for Somewhere Only We Know, her wimpy Keane cover from the John Lewis Christmas ad. It may be unrepresentative of her lively, combative new sound but it remains the only number one of her comeback, suggesting an imbalance between what her audience wants and what she wants them to want.

Nevertheless when she appeared in the flesh, in sparkling trousers, a candyfloss top and a fringe so sharp it could chop vegetables, the force of her personality must have won over some doubters. “Give me that crown, bitch,” she sang on Sheezus, the title track of next week’s third album, which addresses most of female pop royalty by name. “If you don’t wanna be here, leave,” she ordered the “free ticket motherfuckers” who steadfastly refused to stand.

Though new songs such as Life for Me, with its sunny African guitar, and As Long as I Got You, with a staccato strum reminiscent of George Michael’s Faith, revelled in married life and motherhood, that tongue still stung. Her soft chirrup of a voice, and tunes catchier than a Premiership goalkeeper, allowed her to get away with lines about periods, tits and sexual dissatisfaction, as well as all that swearing.

She may list her perceived rivals in her new single but there’s still no one else like Lily. This contented wife and mother deserves her bitch’s crown.