The last time I saw Avril Lavigne, I was eleven. As expected, Avril was my hero, a pop rock icon to fellow preteen girls, the inbetween stage of childhood and teenhood, complete with the throes of angst and puppy love. Avril was all what we wanted to be - a pop punk princess with a scowl on her face, thick eyeliner and a penchant for moody, introspective songs that all appealed to us young girls. My father accompanied me to the show after much begging to go on my part, and he would later complain he was unable to listen to his sthetoscope for the next three days.
Fast forward to some nine years later - this time around, I'm a bit older, still a bit angsty, but Avril's very much changed. Gone are the days of tank tops, ties and baggy jeans - she's now the complete girly girl, in pink tutus adorned with Hello Kitty prints, a huge smile on her face and a - dare I say it - sex appeal, though more alluring to the preteen girly market now. Some call it a sellout, Avril herself (and her marketing team) call it a evolution.
This time instead of being squashed in the crowd, I'm armed with all my camera gear in our shooting area. Avril comes on the stage with her signature tutu now, to the delight of all her young fans, breaking out into "Hello Kitty", and "Girlfriend". The glowsticks are all out in full force tonight, with the waving hands, and screams are heard all around (thank god for ear plugs, and I'm not talking about the speakers very near us).
Three songs later I head back up into the seated area, and it's more nostalgic to hear the music that I grew up with. Old favourites from her first two albums are played, the likes of "Don't Tell Me", "Complicated" "My Happy Ending", and it's also welcomed around the younger crowd, and their accompanying parents - a familiar sight. A noticeable change is that Avril's stage persona is much more smiley and excitable compared to the last time around, and the accompanying band is much tighter, her vocals much more improved. She pulls out a cover of a Marilyn Manson song, (probably in some attempt to prove to everyone that she's still rock and roll) in a all black ensemble, and it's amusing to me, given the age range of the crowd tonight. She finally rocks out with "Losing Grip", another off the first album, finally finishing with "Sk8er Boi" and comes out with the encore that finished with ballad favourite "I'm with You".
17 songs later, I leave amazed that it was a much better show than I'd expected. I clearly knew that she had been much, much more different from the last time I'd seen her live, and where her stage persona/performance had failed, this year's show met that and far exceeded expectations. I guess you could say 11 year old me is pretty happy now, and truthfully, it is. There's always something nostalgic about remembering your first real concert and remembering how it felt the last time.